Silphion

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    • Recently, a study claimed that the Mediterranean medicinal plant considered a cure-all that mysteriously vanished 2,000 years ago may still be around.

    About Silphion

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    • About the plant
      • It was found in the Mediterranean.
      • It was a golden-flowered plant. 
    • Anatolia (Turkey) 
      • A researcher from Istanbul University found a plant species in 2021 at three locations in Anatolia (Turkey) that resembled the ancient plant silphion.
      • The contemporary species Ferula drudeana matched the description of the ancient plant that bore yellow flowers. 
        • Ferula drudeana too can be called a critically endangered species due to its low abundance. 
    • Topography:
      • The plant may need cold and moist conditions for seed germination.
    • Uses:
      • The resin of the silphion was extensively used as a spice, perfume, aphrodisiac, contraceptive and medicine. 
      • Silphion was used to treat various health problems including goiter, 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.
    • Issue:
      • Overharvesting may have driven the plant into extinction. 
      • Human-induced environmental changes could also have been involved in the plant extinction process. 
      • Another reason could be widespread deforestation and desertification made Cyrenaica (modern-day eastern Libya). 
    • Significance:
      • It occupied an important place in the export economy of ancient Cyrene, an old Greek and later Roman colony near north-eastern Libya.

    Source: DTE