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The fox smell of the Crown imperial fritillary is no myth

06.07.2006
The characteristic ‘fox smell’ of the Crown imperial fritillary, which is said to keep moles away, is caused by a single volatile substance produced by the plant. This is the conclusion of research carried out at Plant Research International, an institute of Wageningen UR. The study was published in the scientific periodical Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The Crown imperial has been known to repel moles from gardens for a long time. This has led the plant to be grown for reasons beyond its pretty flowers and they are often placed at the edge of gardens for maximum efficiency.

The Wageningen researchers discovered that the fox smell of the bulbs is caused by a single substance. With the help of a combination of human olfactory capacities and high-tech analysis equipment (GCMS), they also discovered the structure of the substance, which turned out to be a sulphurous terpene. The scientists subsequently managed to reproduce it exactly using a synthetic process in the laboratory.

Jac Niessen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.wur.nl

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