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Hot Fungicide

Exodus 37:29: "And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary."

Plant seeds are distributed by many methods, including wind, water, and animals. Plants that rely on animals to distribute their seeds usually attract those animals with tasty fruit. Such fruit contains sugar and other substances that animals find inviting.

The problem is, everybody likes sugar. That includes insects, molds and fungi, all of which are useless as seed distributors. Some plants make up for this problem by producing large amounts of fruit. Researchers have now confirmed the popular notion that hot peppers use spice to deter non-seed distributors from bothering their fruit. The "hot" in these chilies comes from the amount and types of chemicals in them, called capsaicinoids. They studied Capsicum chili plants in Bolivia that have a range of capsaicinoids. A common fruit pest in this part of the world is a sap-sucking bug whose mouth parts commonly infest plants with black fungus. Researchers surveyed infestations in different plant populations and analyzed the amount of capsaicinoids in the different populations. Sure enough, the hotter peppers had measurably fewer black mold infestations than the more mild ones.

In providing these plants with protection from pests, God has also provided us with useful and pleasant spices.

Prayer: Father, thank You for not only providing protection for productive plants but for giving us useful spices as well. Amen.

Notes:, 8-12-08, Rachel Ehrenberg, "Bittersweet Fruits."

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