Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A walk through plant chemistry: actual and virtual trails through the Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG)

A chemical trail has been created through the Cambridge University Botanic Garden (CUBG) to reinforce the interest in plant chemistry [1]. This trail identifies selected plant species, featured at twenty-two stopping points along the trail. Selected plants are associated with a webpage and further detailed information—accessible via quick response (QR) code for garden visitors with a QR-scanning mobile phone. 
The plant webpages feature chemicals characteristic for a given plant species or genus [2]. Here is an alphabetically ordered list of featured plant ingredients including links to their biochemical description, molecular structure diagram, 3D crystal structure and plant classification:

Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin): Salix (Willow), Salicaceae.
Aloin B: Aloe vera, Xanthorrhoeaceae.
Alpha and beta pinene: Pinus nigra (European Black Pine), Pinaceae.
Artemisinin: Artemisia annua (Sweet wormwood), Asteraceae.
Beta-amyrin: Asclepias syriaca (Common milkweed), Apocynaceae.
Beta-carotene: Daucus carota (Wild carrot), Apiaceae.
Caffeine: Coffea (Coffee), Rubiaceae.
Capsaicin, Capsicum annum (Chilli Pepper), Solanaceae.
Coumarin: Galium odoratum (Sweet woodruff), Rubiaceae.
Diallyl disulfide: Allium sativum (Garlic), Amaryllidaceae.
Digoxin: Digitalis (Foxglove), Plantaginaceae.
Formic acid: Urtica dioica (Stinging nettle), Urticaceae.
Gossypol: Gossypium (Cotton), Malvaceae.
Isoadhumulone: Humulus lupulus (Common hop), Cannabaceae.
Melatonin: Tanacetum parthenium (Feverfew), Asteraceae.
Menthol: The Mints, Mentha species, Lamiaceae.
Nicotine: Nicotiana tabacum (Tobacco), Solanaceae.
Paclitaxel: Taxus baccata (European Yew), Taxaceae.
Quercetin: Opuntia (Prickly pear), Cactaceae.
Scopolamine: Hyoscyamus niger (Henbane), Solanaceae
Sparteine: Lupinus sp. (Lupin), Fabaceae.
Spirotriterpenoid: Spurges (Euphorbia), Euphorbiaceae.

Keywords: phytochemistry, biology, trees, flowers, herbs, phytochemicals, medicines, drugs, alkaloids, dyes, pigments, flavorings, foodstuff, taxonomy.

References and more to explore
[1] G. M. Battle, G. O. Kyd, C. R. Groom, F. H. Allen, J. Day and T. Upson: Up the  Garden Path: A Chemical Trail through the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. J. Chem. Educ. 2012, 89, pp. 1390-1394. DOI: 10.1021/ed300065s.
[2] Cambridge University Botanic Garden: Chemicals from Plants. (accessed March 13, 2013).