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Plants and Society, 3/e
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Poisonous and Allergy Plants

Concept Quizzes


Many cultures incorporate poisonous plants in their diets by devising methods to detoxify the poisonous components. Several cultures have evolved novel methods to process hydrogen cyanide from bitter varieties of cassava (see Chapter 14). Milkweed pods are a favorite food of the Omaha Indians; the cardioactive glycosides are rendered harmless during cooking.

Speculate as to how poisonous plants were first identified by indigenous peoples, why cultures chose to eat poisonous plants, and how methods of detoxification were devised for these plants to become a mainstay of the daily diet.

The Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) is one source of taxol, a compound that is effective in treating breast and ovarian cancers (see Chapter 19).

Why is the investigation of poisonous plants often a promising avenue for discovering drugs that are effective in the treatment of cancer?

Exposure to allergenic pollen is highest near the source. Hay fever sufferers who have allergenic plants in their yards may be especially aware of the effects of pollen.

If you suffer from hay fever and are allergic to several types of spring tree pollen, what type of landscaping can you have in your yard to keep symptoms to a minimum? Prepare a list of these trees suitable for your area.

Food allergies can trigger serious life-threatening reactions, and avoidance is often difficult to achieve with prepared foods.

Prepare a list of food products that you would have to avoid if you were allergic to corn. Be sure to check labels for all corn products.