Gender matters in plants

For good

Study on flower and gender

Angiosperms, or flowering plants as they are commonly known, dominate the plant kingdom with over a whopping 3.5 lakh species. Unlike the bisexual plants that are predominant, where both the reproductive structures are present in the same flower of the plant, some have the male and female flowers in different plants. Such plants are called dioecious plants, and there are over 15,600 species of them across the world.

Many of these plants have been used traditionally as food, medicine and timber for over thousands of years. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Oslo, Norway, and The Institute of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology, Bengaluru have explored some aspects of the bond between folk medicine and the sex of the plants used for the same. In the study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the researchers have documented the knowledge and use of dioecious plants by a hill-dwelling ethnic group living in the Eastern Ghats of Tamil Nadu.

They have pondered on questions like — do folk healers have a preference for plant genders; if so, how are these gender differences in plants perceived; and how the Indian systems of medicine have documented the concept of plant gender and preferences for it.

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