Poisonous Beauty

27. 9. 2010 / Boris Cvek

These days we can find over free nature or even on gardens one of the most beautiful flowers that bloom over the year. One that suprisingly grows from the ground, without leaves, up until when everything fades and dies with the killing breath of the first night frosts. It is a poisonous meadow (the picture is from my parents` garden), which contains many alkaloids, among them probably the most significant being colchicine.

I had the opportunity to see pictures of cells of which the cytoskeleton (cellular skeleton) is falling apart due to colchicine, because colchicine binds to tubulin molecules and prevents it from creating microtubules` cell "bones". It is a fascinating sight.

About the use of colchicine and its uses: ZDE. And, just as it generally happens with poisons, even this one can have also therapeutic effects. When I see such meadows, some Shakespeare's verses come to my mind (Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliette, II, 3), which have, of course, a profound moral and political meaning:

" Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power:
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant."

And so one can combine, in a single flower, botanics, pharmacology, morality, politics and even wonder about the ambiguous beauty of life.


Obsah vydání | Sobota 10.12. 2016