Medicines and Insecticides

Many modern medicines originated in forests around the world. Salicylic acid (a component of aspirin) was first isolated from willows, and quinine (used to treat malaria) was discovered in Cinchona officinalis. Much of this

Fig. 1.5. Leaves and branches of Quassia amara trees are collected from forests throughout this species' broad range in Central America for its medicinal and insecti-cidal uses. This picture was taken in the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve in Talamanca, Costa Rica (Photo: CATIE)

Fig. 1.5. Leaves and branches of Quassia amara trees are collected from forests throughout this species' broad range in Central America for its medicinal and insecti-cidal uses. This picture was taken in the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve in Talamanca, Costa Rica (Photo: CATIE)

knowledge is discovered through ethnopharmacology, the study of indigenous herbal medicines. Some medicinal plants can also have biocidal properties. For example, extracts of Quassia amara, a medicinal tree that grows in forests throughout Central America, have been tested by CATIE (Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center) in Turrialba, Costa Rica, as an insecticide to control the mahogany shoot borer Hypsipyla grandella (Montagnini et al. 2002; Fig. 1.5).

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