Ancient plant Silphion

  • IASbaba
  • September 29, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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Context: A Mediterranean medicinal plant considered a cure-all that mysteriously vanished 2,000 years ago may still be around, a recent study claimed.

  • A researcher from Istanbul University found a plant species recently at three locations in Anatolia — modern-day Turkey, that resembled the ancient plant Silphion.
  • There may be waterlogged remains of ancient Silphion on the Mediterranean seafloor, which could provide direct evidence of the nature of this elusive plant

Ancient Usage of Silphion:

  • The resin of the Silphion was extensively used as a spice, perfume, aphrodisiac, contraceptive and medicine.
  • It occupied an important place in the export economy of ancient Cyrene, an old Greek and later Roman colony near north-eastern Libya.

Silphion was used to treat various health problems:

  • goitre, sciatica (nerve pain), toothache, intestinal disorders, hormonal disorders, epilepsy, tetanus, polyps (abnormal growth of tissues) and malignant tumours.
  • Its stalks were eaten as a vegetable, while the roots were consumed raw.
  • The plant was also used to preserve lentils.

Causes of extinction of Silphion:

  • Overharvesting
  • Human-induced environmental changes
  • Widespread deforestation and desertification

Environmental conditions:

  • These plants may need cold and moist conditions for seed germination.
  • This is because the plants related to Silphion, such as Ferula drudeana and Ferula asafoetida, also need similar environmental conditions for seeds to germinate
  • An increase in temperature might have increased evaporation, leading to unfavourable conditions.

Source: DownToEarth                 

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) Which of the following are nitrogen-fixing plants? (2022)

  1. Alfalfa
  2. Amaranth
  3. Chickpea
  4. Clover
  5. Purslane (Kulfa)
  6. Spinach

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1, 3 and 4 only
  2. 1, 3, 5 and 6 only
  3. 2, 4, 5 and 6 only
  4. 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6

Q.2) Recently, there was a growing awareness in our country about the importance of Himalayan nettle (Girardinia diversifolia) because it is found to be a sustainable source of  (2019)

  1. anti-malarial drug
  2. biodiesel
  3. pulp for the paper industry
  4. textile fibre

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