plant lab

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Thu May 9 18:58:01 EST 1996

I believe there is a commercial lab dealing with extraction of salicylic 
acid from willow, which gave us the idea for aspirin.

The idea for Velcro orginally came when someone looked at sticktights 
stuck to their clothes under a microscope.

Flash powder (lycopodium spores) was once used in photography and to keep 
pills from sticking together.

Make "coffee" from seeds of Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus 
dioicus) seeds.

Carolina Biological Supply sells vanilla bean pods. Extract 
them with alcohol and make vanilla extract.

Collect sassafras roots and make sasparilla.

Make candles from bayberry fruits. Grow citronella and make insect 
repellant candles.

Make insect sprays with pyrethrum, garlic, or tobacco (nicotine).

Collect fern fiddleheads and make a salad.

Get chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) and make a Chia Pet using a sponge or 
mix with water to make an edible gruel. Chia was a major food crop of the 

Extract any of the oil seeds (sunflower, peanut, safflower, etc.) to get 
cooking oil.

Anna Lewington's book Plants for People (1990. Cambridge Univ. Press) has 
lots of other ideas. 

David R. Hershey
Snail mail: 6700 Belcrest Road #112, Hyattsville, MD 20782-1340

Adjunct Professor, Biology/Horticulture Department
Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at

On 9 May 1996, jb189 wrote:

> We are developing a plant biology lab for non-science students dealing with
> botanical products.  The idea is for students to conduct experiments that
> illustrate how products they use are developed from plants.  Do you know of any
> experiments we could use?  We plan to do one experiment where we distill
> plant material to get oils for perfumes.  We need something else to fill the
> time.  If you have any ideas, please let me know.  Thanks in advance.
>                                 John Browning
>                                 University of Maryland, College Park
>                                 jb189 at

More information about the Plant-ed mailing list