Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

Last night’s effort…

Picture it...

Raspberries and a molecule of raspberry ketone (4-(4-Hydroxyphenyl)butan-2-one) in a mortar, with the pestle lying next to it. Raspberries and a molecule of raspberry ketone (4-(4-Hydroxyphenyl)butan-2-one) in a mortar, with the pestle lying next to it.

In the UK and most of Western Europe, our traditional autumn recipes are dominated by apples, blackberries and later pears, but the autumn-fruiting cultivars of raspberries, such as Rubus idaeus ‘Autumn Bliss’ have also withstood all that your average British summer could throw at them and appear bright red, like little burlesque dancers, in the fading colours of the productive garden. So “blow a raspberry” to all the more exotic fruit marketed (often misleadingly) as “Superfood” and pay homage to this potent little package of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre.

1. The main picture shows a few raspberries in a mortar, together with the pestle lying next to it, as well as a molecule of raspberry ketone, the compound giving rise to the characteristic aroma of raspberries and other berries. Mortar and…

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Paper PDF reprint now available

Article CoverTogether with my former Bristol colleague, Dr Jesús Jover, now at the University of Barcelona, I wrote a Focus Review on computational tools for (homogeneous) catalysis in late 2013, titled “The Computational Road to Better Catalysts”. The ASAP version of this was published in late March and it was assigned to the July issue of Chemistry – An Asian Journal.

I can confirm that I now have a reprint pdf of the final version of this review, please get in touch if you can’t get hold of it in other ways.


Herb Walk

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Herb Walk participants (Stephen, Thomas, Fiona, Helen, Rose) and our guide, Max Drake from The Urban Fringe Dispensary Herb Walk participants (Stephen, Thomas, Fiona, Helen, Rose) and our guide, Max Drake from The Urban Fringe Dispensary

A couple of weeks ago, Picture It… Chemistry invited a local herbalist (Max Drake from The Urban Fringe Dispensary) to guide fellow plant and chemistry enthusiasts on an evening herb walk in the local Brandon Hill Park in Bristol.

Many of our posts so far have explored the culinary and medicinal uses of the compounds found in plants, and in this post Natalie has again taken her camera along to “the outside” to find out more about the plants and herbs that can be found in a local park, just a small distance from the School of Chemistry. As for previous “expeditions”, this post will mainly show pictures and a few links to get you interested, while we plan to explore some of these plants and molecules in detail in later…

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Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) and Bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra)

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A beaker of silica (silicon dioxide) on a bed of horsetail, Equisetum arvense. Also showing the molecular structure of silicon dioxide and the tetrahedral arrangement adopted in the solid state. A beaker of silica (silicon dioxide) on a bed of horsetail, Equisetum arvense. Also showing the molecular structure of silicon dioxide and the tetrahedral arrangement adopted in the solid state.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a little glass container with dry brown needles, labelled “Horsetail, Devon, UK” on the desk of a Professor of Inorganic and Materials Chemistry in Texas (Jeffrey L. Coffer at TCU). Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), an invasive, deep-rooted weed, along with members of the grasses family (Poaceae), which includes bamboo, rice, grass and sugarcane, accumulates silica (silicon dioxide) throughout its stems and leaves. This silica, perhaps more familiar from little sachets of drying agents when you buy new shoes, can be converted into mesoporous silicon, used as a benign additive in food and cosmetics, but is also of interest in biomedicine as a template for bone and cell growth…

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