How plants grow


Growth hormones are responsible for cell reproduction and regeneration in humans, animals and plants. In humans and animals growth hormones are also known as somatotropin or somatropin. In the plant kingdom or plantae they are known as Brassinosteroids and they play a crucial role in plant growth and development [5].

Brassinosteroids are a class of polyhydroxylated sterol derivatives, structurally similar to animal steroids, which appear to be globally distributed throughout the plant kingdom [2,3]. They promote cell expansion and division, regulating senescence, male fertility, fruit ripening as well as modulating plant responses to various environmental signals [2,3].

Brassinosteroids are activated in response to light and temperature changes, as well as other environmental conditions, this is in fact the only way plants have to react to external environmental conditions. They promote cell elongation in vegetative organs in several plant species [5].


Family: Brassicaceae

Genus: Brassica

Common name: Rape, oilseed rape, rappi, rapa, rapaseed [4].


Clerodendrum capitatum


Clerodendrum capitatum (Clerodendron), a plant native from Tropical African region that belongs to the Verbenaceae family, locally known as "Gung" in Sudan [1], "Pipe Tree" [2] and Mashayi[4], that grows between 0.2 to 2 meters high, could be the new source of a new family of natural PDE5 inhibitors, the cellular enzymes used as a base for some of the most famous drugs for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, as Sidenafil, used for its vasodilatory and PDE5 inhibitory properties. Note: The image above belongs to Clerodendrum thomsoniae.

In Nigeria, Clerodendrum capitatum (Clerodendron)is used to treat diabetes mellitus, obesity, and hypertension [10], and in Sudan it has been used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction [1,8,9], however and due to its vasodilatory and PDE5 inhibitory effects it may well be the new source of drugs against erectile dysfunction. Image: Clerodendrum thomsoniae, see credits under ref. [22] below.


Family: Verbenaceae

Genus: Clerodendrum

Common name: Gung [1], Pipe tree [2], Mashayi [4].


More antioxidants and less pesticides in organic crops


Organic farming aims to preserve soil and ecosystem health by forgoing heavy use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides [4], so far so good but what does this bring to consumers? Why would consumers pay more for organic food if there was no difference between that one and non-organic food?

Consumers believe that organic food is healthier and more nutritious, presumably due to the absence of pesticides and artificial hormones [4], however there is not much information regarding these potential health benefits of organically grown food, or at least it wasn't much until now.

In a study performed by an international team of experts led by Newcastle University, it has been found that organic crops contain much higher quantities of antioxidants and much lower incidence of pesticide residues [1].


Tel Kabri, a 3,700-years-old wine cellar


Tel Kabri (Hebrew: תל כברי‎), an archaeological site at the eastern end of the Western Galilee coastal plain, home to one of the largest Middle Bronze Age Canaanite palaces in Israel, has been excavated since 1957 in the search for antiquities and archaeological treasures [4].

Not without reason Tel Kabri was known to be the only place where Minoan-style frescoes were found [4] in a 3,500-year-old Canaanite palace. Now a team of American and Israeli archaeologists may have found there what it seems to be the oldest wine cellar in the Near East


Family: Vitaceae

Genus: Vitis

Common name: Common grape vine


Trees saving lives



In a study published by the International Society of Arbiculture back in 2007 it was noted that "The Urban forests in the United States were estimated to produce ≈61 million metric tons (67 million tons) of oxygen annually, enough oxygen to offset the annual oxygen consumption of approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population" [3]. In spite in the very same study the effects of this oxygen production was quoted as "relatively insignificant and negligible value", another study published this year contradicts slightly this statement.

In the publication Tree and forest effects on air quality and human health in the United States (available on-line herehere), in the first broad-scale estimate of air pollution removal by trees nationwide, U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators calculated that trees are saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms [1].