Sunday , June 20 2021

The hidden moon color of the shovel like the "love bush"



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If you are observant enough in the Australian shrub, you may notice the flower of the shovel, a member of the violet family. The colors of shovels grow under the semi-shade of an open eucalyptus forest, along with other green herbaceous plants.

This often overlooked member of the Australian flora hides some interesting secrets, including rarely a chemical that can hold the key to turning ordinary plants into healing drugs.



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The usual flower of the names of the shovels refers to the shape of the flower, which is dominated by the shovel-like shovel. Its botanical name, Hybanthus enneaspermus, is just as descriptive. The generic name Hybanthus means a "flower humpback" referring to the posture of the flowers. Meanwhile, the specific name enneaspermus means "nine seeds," because at maturity every small 5-millimeter fruit is divided into three sections with three seeds.



The conversation

Hidden talent

Violets are familiar objects, from spectacular native Viola banksii or the scent of European sweet violets. What is no it is generally accepted that members of the Temenuggi family produce some very curious molecules called peptides.

People – and many other organisms – use peptides as signals that allow communication between cells and tissues. An example of a peptide messenger from people with an important function is oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone". Oxytocin regulates social relationships and other key aspects of our biology and sociality. In contrast, plants sometimes use peptides for different purposes, such as toxins, to protect themselves from insects and other pests.

But unlike most peptides, those produced by Temenuggi are round rather than linear. Because of this circular form, they are highly stable under conditions that would degrade other peptides. This particular class of peptides are called & quot; cyclotypes & quot; and occur only in relatively few plant species. That's why we searched throughout northern Australia, from the Kimberley area in Western Australia to the Queensland coast for samples of local Australians. Temenuggi,

The first cyclottide, which attracts scientists' attention, comes from an African plant called calda-calla, traditionally used in teas to speed up labor. In 2013, it was shown that a specific calicellium of calcaffe acts on the smooth muscle to cause muscle tissue to contract.

Kala-kala, or Oldenlandia affinisis used in traditional medicinal tea. Its efficacy comes from the cyclottides it produces.
KalataB1 / Wikipedia

But relieving birth may not be the only effect that cyclottides have. Initial experiments with colorful shrub extracts show significant effect on rat behavior. Rats treated with peptide-labeled shrub extracts showed an increased copulation rate.

With us, the receptors that detect peptides control libido, sleep, and other aspects of our biology. These observations leave the cyclothyles of the shovel flowers as the main suspects supporting this love bioactivity and can be the basis for creating another name for this plant: "shrubs for love".

Despite this intriguing effect, while further research confirms these initial aphrodisiac finds and their basis, it is likely to be wise to protect them from swallowing these plants.

The color of the shovel is native to Australia, but its native land extends through South Asia, India and Africa. Despite the wide range of the species, the plant usually spreads in the same way. According to our experience, this rare distribution meant we would not find them along the 600-kilometer-long Gibb River Road at the end of the wet season and only one observation from the road south of Gladstone. This deficiency has the resolve of many skillful spontaneous plants, including ourselves.

Squamous flower buds are delicate and graceful.
The author has been provided

You will most likely find shambles in semi-shaded environments north of the Queensland-New South Wales border, along the east coast and the top edge. Grows alongside or near waterways, but is difficult to notice because its narrow leaves tend to mix with the herbs that grow with it.

Look for the colors of purple shovels among the rejuvenating herbs during the warmer and wet months, but do this before noon when the flowers disappear from sight.

There are also other Hybanthus species in Australia, but the genus appears polyphyletic (meaning they are grouped together but do not share a common ancestor), so the genus is not really representative of a single taxonomic group. another Hybanthus The species are similar to shovels, namely H. monopetalus, which grows a lot of purple-blue flowers on a stem instead of single purple flowers.

In the habitats between Brisbane and Sydney, the shovel flowers are scarce, but similar and possibly more ethereal species are called H. stellarioides happens. H. stellarioides is a bit more delicate, but what really distinguishes it is the bright orange flowers it produces in summer and autumn.

Merry flowers to their lighter orange cousin, H. stellarioides,
The author has been provided

In many other respects these two species look so similar that for a while H. stellarioides is considered to be a subspecies of the shovel, but it is now clear that they are genetically different.

As part of Professor David Krake's research group at the University of Queensland, we arranged the genes of colorful shoots and shovel roots to discover how these smart plants make cyclottides. These data helped to explain the cyclotin amino acid sequences of the shovel flowers.

Armed with this information, the scientific community can now create robust designer peptides as potential pharmaceuticals. The Craik Group is working on creating modified cyclottides that can treat cancer and other diseases and then introduce these genes into edible plants – turning the regular tomato plant into a medicinal plant. Studying how the flower of the shovel makes cyclottides has already helped us make some new cyclottides in other plant seeds.



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Finally, this work facilitates the isolation of individual cyclottides from "loving shrubs" to test their effects. Watch this space and the herbs under your feet. The modest and shy flower of the shovel may have more surprises!


Sign up for Beating Around the Bush, a series that portrays local plants: part of the countryside, part of the country entirely Australian.


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