Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post
Israeli scientists have discovered that a South African plant, the woolly umbrella, produces cannabinoids even though it is completely unrelated to the genus cannabis.
This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 1 May 2023.
A South African plant called a “woolly umbrella” is completely unrelated to the cannabis plant, but it produces dozens of the active compounds found in cannabis – cannabinoids – including some that may have new medical uses.
In a study published on 1 May 2023 in the prestigious journal Nature Plants, researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, identified more than 40 cannabinoids in the woolly umbrella. The team revealed the series of biochemical steps the plant takes when it makes these compounds and also showed how these steps can be reproduced in the lab to synthesize or even engineer new cannabinoids.
Known to botanists, as Helichrysum umbraculigerum, the woolly umbrella is a tufted perennial herb that can reach one meter in height and is popular for making a garden border. The young parts are gray and thinly woolly, velvety and leafy, and the golden yellow flowers grow in clusters webbed together with “wool,” forming a parasol-like structure between January and April.