Friday, June 24, 2011

Roadside Antimicrobials

Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea
The search for novel plant compounds with beneficial medicinal properties in the last century or so has tended to focus on tropical and sub-tropical areas (1). Yet some very useful species exist right on our door steps. Take for example a plant that is entering the last throws of its yearly blooming, the Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea. Commonly seen in hedgerows and roadside verges, this perennial, native to Ireland and Europe, produces delicately petaled white flowers on weak stems that grow up to 60 cm in length (2). A survey of native plants in Scotland for antimicrobial activity (1) showed methanol extracts from seeds of S. holostea had inhibitive effects on Pesudomonas aeruginosa, a major opportunistic pathogen in in intensive care patients, burn victims, organ transplant recipients, and cystic fibrosis patients (3).
Greater Stitchwort, Stellaria holostea
  1. Sarker et al., 2002. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 83 pp. 73-77
  2. Phillips, 1982. Wildflowers of Great Britain
  3. Oriol et al., 1996. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents 7 pp. 65-68

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