Solanine, the toxic compound in potatoes

Memories of a summer evening (yeah, I still cannot get over the idea that summer is gone), preparing dinner. A question about solanine in tomatoes comes up. A long discussion about solanine, tomatine and other glycoalkaloids produced by Solanaceae plants starts.It seems a nerdy conversation, and maybe it is, but it is actually also aContinue reading “Solanine, the toxic compound in potatoes”

Something against autumn blues…

Summer is almost over in Italy, but before moving on to the next season, I would like to talk about a plant that is somehow strongly connected to summer: Saint John’s Wort. Plants are wonderful organisms and some of their features make them look like magical beings to humans. If we have a look atContinue reading “Something against autumn blues…”

Capsaicin, the painfully hot feeding deterrent…that we love adding to our food

Some days ago, an attorney general in the USA claimed that pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. No idea if he was grasping at straws in a hopeless attempt to justify the use of the spray against protesters, or if this claim was a result of his ignorance. In fact, pepper spray is highlyContinue reading “Capsaicin, the painfully hot feeding deterrent…that we love adding to our food”

Loves me, loves me not

Probably everybody knows the popular game in which one person seeks to determine whether the object of their affection returns it or not, by using the “petals” of a “flower”, usually a daisy. Well, the term daisy can refer to many species. Here, we will focus on the Southern daisy, Bellis sylvestris Cir., which isContinue reading “Loves me, loves me not”

Plants as chemists

If I asked you to picture a chemist, you would probably imagine someone closed in a laboratory, handling dangerous chemicals…or maybe you are right now picturing Walter White. Well, what if I tell you that the plant sitting there on your balcony or out in the garden is a much better chemist? Let’s make aContinue reading “Plants as chemists”