Plants More Valuable than Gold
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Most of the focus on extinction is on animals but we should also care about which plants are lost. But here's a fascinating twist. One valued plant that had been thought extinct for centuries has been rediscovered in the foothills of central Turkey.

Lore has it that the Roman emperor Nero ate the last one, a coveted plant called Silphion. It was once found along the coast of Libya and widely used as a valuable seasoning in cooking and considered a wonder drug. People used it to treat baldness, dental pain and insect bites. It was as valuable as silver and so in demand that it disappeared from overuse. The rediscovered plant Ferula drudeana is believed to be the same plant and perhaps brought to Turkey by relocating Greeks. Since it takes up to ten years to mature, it's possible it was forgotten.

The plant is related to the family of plants that include carrots, parsley and fennel. Scientists can't be sure it's the same plant since they don't have the original.

They have pictures from ancient coins and Ferula drudeana looks very similar. They're also seeking material recovered from shipwrecks or ancient stores to make comparisons. Researchers have analyzed the rediscovered plant and found that the leaves, stems and root have properties that can be used to fight cancer, as a contraceptive, as an anti-inflammatory and more. It's remarkable to make this find and urges us to slow the loss of thousands of plant species each year.

For more information…

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