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SPICES
Biology, History, Production, Uses
Janice Ott
“He who controls the spice,
controls the universe.”
from Dune by Frank Herbert
Sassafras
Food for birds,
mammals
Sassafras albidum
Beverage, tea
Exported by colonists
(second to tobacco)
Learned from Iroquois
tonic after labor
topical for rhematism
colds, fevers
FilE used for thickening gumbo
from dried, ground leaf
Root beer
Soaps, perfumes
1970s safrole liver damage
Precursor to MDMA (ecstasy)
Safrole is a weak carcinogen in rats
Banned by FDA
Roots dont’s have safrole
Analgesic, antiseptic, fungicide
What
“Aromatic natural products
that are the dried seeds,
buds, fruit, flower parts,
bark, or roots of plants,
usually of tropical origin.”
All spices are edible.
Herbs are not spices,
usually leaves.
When dried, herbs
can be a spice.
HERBIVORY
Herbivory is Predation
Insects (adult and larvae),
mammals, rodents, fungi
Defoliators
Leaf miner
Sap sucker, gall makers
Galls
Bark Beetles
Mammal Damage
deer
I. Plants Problem
Decrease fitness
Decrease vigor, biomass
Decrease competitive edge
Decrease reproduction
II. Plants Solution
1. thorns
Prickly Rose
2. Secondary compounds
Primary compounds are
proteins, sugars, starches
needed for growth
When herbivory is high produce
toxins
Secondary compounds
Black pepper
nicotine
cinnamon
a. Secondary compounds
discourage herbivores
1) tannins
2) phenols
(aromatics)
3) terpenes
(volatiles)
I. Alkaloids (affect nervous system)
act as insecticides
1. Morphine
2. Cocaine (coca leaves)
3. Caffeine
allelopathy
chocolate, tea
4. Nicotine
5. Mescaline (Peyote)
6. Nutmeg
7. Morning Glory
8. Nightshades
II. Terpenoids
all plants, volatile
1. Essential oils
fragrance to deter pathogens
deter herbivores
humans use for aromatherapy
humans use for topical medicine
2. Taxol
treat ovarian and breast cancer
from fungus on European yew
3. Rubber
III. Phenols
attract pollinators
Flavonoids, Flavins
1. Anthocyanins
Grapes, berries
Color depends on pH
Human – protect against
heart disease,
diabetes, cancer, aging
2. Salicylic Acid
Willow tree, aspirin, skin care
Hippocrates
3. Lignin
adds strength to cell walls
Waterproof
Fungal attacks
Secondary are toxic
Usually in specific vacuoles
Not every plant can produce every product
Only produced when needed
Plants response to
overgrazing
Fast growing plants protect
juvenile parts
Slow growing plants defend
entire life
Secondary compounds
b. suppress competitors
c. expensive
only for valuable tissue (young)
defense only when needed
withdraw when no longer needed
d. coevolution
Hares
Voles
Moose
10 year
3-4 year
10-30 year
Response:
heavier shoots
longer sprouts
overgrowth at growing tips
no flowers this year
III. Herbivory
Most eaten:
young, tender tips
(papyriferic acid 2x
in shoots)
high carbon areas
birch, willow, aspen,
poplar
Least eaten: alder, spruce, old
wood
Coevolution
Milkweed is toxic
History
Accidently –Who????
Used to mask unpleasant
Money
cardamon = years wages
peppercorns = several slaves
Spice Trade
3,000 BCE
First record of trade Assyrians
2600 BCE
Evidence pyramid builders
had foreign spices
1550 BCE
Ebers papyrus lists spices
used for medicine and embalming
Bible: Joseph sold to a spice caravan
1750 BCE Hammurabi codes
Lists penalities for sloppy medical
use of spices
1458 BCE Egyptian queen,Hatshepsut,
visited Punt (modern Somalia)
for spices
Arabs controlled trade
for centuries
950 BCE caravans from
India to the Greeks
Incense Road
Caravan could take 2 years
Incense Road, Silk Road
425 BCE Herodotus
harvest cinnamon
331 BCE Alexander the Great
founded Alexandria
80
Ptolemy gave
Alexandria to Romans
BCE
Arabs dominated until 1100
CE
1298 CE Marco Polo traveled
to China, found world about
spice locations.
Vasco de Gama
1498 CE first to reach
India by sea
Most important event
Portugal and Spain
1493 Pope Alexander VI split
1519-1522 Magellan
Circumnavigate
5 ships, only 1 left
Spain sold rights to Portugal,
Portugal controlled spice trade
1580 Sir Francis Drake
1580 British East India Company
1640 Dutch East India Company
Dutch seized Malaysia
1780 Dutch and English war
English control
Okay, okay, okay.
What’s in your cupboard?
Worldwide importance
Medieval
every town had Pepper St.
Pepper district
Canterbury Tales
Sailors = gold earring,
bag of peppercorns
India>Pakistan, Afghanistan>
Iran, Iraq, Syria>Turkey>
Balkan States>Venice
Perfect for trade
Venice became strong nation
Developed banking system
Medici Bank
Piper nigrum
Vine
Fruit is a drupe
produces 3rd yr
continue 15 yrs
Originally S. India
Currently 34% Vietnam
Turns red when ripe
Peppercorn
Cooked and dried
Green =unripe
White = ripe, soaked, outer removed
Black = half-ripe, dry
Manganese
Vitamin K
Copper
Fiber
Iron
Chromium
calcium
Medicine
aid digestion
stimulates taste buds
increase hydrochloric acid
improve appetite
treat coughs, colds
colic
diabetes
anemia
chewed for throat inflammation
Contains alkaloids
piperine
CNS depressant
anti-oxidant
anti-fungal
anti-flatulent
diuretic
breakdown fat cells

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