While lavender has long been known for its strong scent and soothing oils, UBC Okanagan researchers are exploring the plant’s ability to create natural pesticides.
Soheil Mahmoud, an associate professor of biology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, conducts research on organic compounds found in plants – specifically lavender. While lavender is known for its strong scent, and the plant’s oils are said to have a healing or soothing benefit, Mahmoud agreed lavender has much more to offer.
“Lavender has proven to be very good at protecting itself through production of antimicrobial and anti-fungal biochemical compounds,” reported Mahmoud. “One of our goals is to identify molecules that are involved in this natural self-defence.”
“Traditionally, chemical herbicides or pesticides have been used to control fungal growth or pests like insects. But according to Mahmoud this method is becoming less and less desirable as many of the pests and fungi have become resilient to the chemicals used, and as consumers prefer food that is untreated or treated with “natural” pesticides.”
“We’ve become much more health conscious,” he added. “There are healthier options instead of spraying chemicals on plants; we just need to explore these. Aromatic plants like lavenders could provide suitable alternatives to chemical-based insecticides.”