What colour is the sea? 7

November 9th, 2013, 10am

Spring is a great season in Australia for the native bottlebrush (callistemon) which is widely seen flowering in gardens and in the bush. Several dozen species grow in Australia sporting many colours: white, yellow, burgundy but mostly various shades of bright red. As you can see in the photo, taken on today’s walk, the colour of the flowers is provided by their long stamens rather than the inconspicuous petals.

I always wonder about the possible medicinal or nutritional value of wild plants, so I checked with Dr. Google and found a scientific study (by I.E. Cock) which drew the following conclusion:

“The low toxicity of these Callistemon extracts and their inhibitory bioactivity against a panel of bacteria validates Australian Aboriginal usage of Callistemon citrinus and Callistemon salignus as antiseptic agents and confirms their medicinal potential.”

Strangely, although the Bottlebrush has been in the Aboriginal pharmacopoeia for some thousands of years, the first major European study was announced last year. Using both flower and leaf extracts, Dr. Cock was able to detect significant anti-bacterial growth activity within 1 hour. So, I assume that now it’s over to big pharma who will doubtless make a fortune out of these indigenous discoveries. Well, better late than never.

As for the colour of the sea, I would say something like aqua or maybe aquamarine. What would you say?

Kristen, Sunny, Rose, Adrian and 3 others said thanks.

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David Wade Chambers

Born in Oklahoma: 30 years in US. 6 years in Canada, 40 years in Australia. Academic field: history and philosophy of science. Currently, teach indigenous studies online at Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM) and Brandon University (Manitoba). Come visit our B&B on Australia's Great Ocean Road. Mate's Rates for Hi community! (http://www.cimarron.com.au)

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