The plant kingdom is a treasure trove of solutions to human problems.
It is an unwise action of humanity to carry out actions that result in the extinction of plants. There may come a time when a virus sweeps through humanity killing all in its path, and there may be a plant that existed in the Amazon that we caused to go extinct that contained a cure for that virus.
People are largely ignorant about how useful plants are to the many problems that humanity faces. I will concentrate on one plant as an example, called catnip.
Catnip is better known for its interesting effects on cats. 75% of domestic cats and all large cats apart from lions and tigers are attracted to catnip. This harmless plant gives cats great pleasure: they like to smell catnip, taste catnip, rub catnip all over themselves; they start purring and become quite playful under its influence; though in too large doses they can become aggressive.
For the cat owner catnip has practical uses. To stop a cat using the furniture as a scratching post, a scratch post given a dose of catnip will encourage the cat to use that scratch post rather than the furniture. Cat toys that have catnip will result in a higher level of playtime for the cat.
Catnip contains an ingredient called nepetalactone, which is what is attractive to the cats; this ingredient is an effective repellent of cockroaches and mosquitoes. Rather than use toxic chemicals against a cockroach infestation, catnip is a natural and effective countermeasure against them. Catnip also provides a nontoxic and cheap repellent against mosquitoes when used on clothes and skin, an alternative to somewhat toxic market mosquito repellents. There will of course be some people who are allergic to catnip, but for most it is an ideal environmentally friendly solution.
Catnip is also antibacterial, a mild sedative, and can relieve muscle cramps, fever and headaches.
Catnip interests me in finding a solution against the number two enemy of bee’s, the varroa mite. Plants create chemicals to counteract insects that attack them, and it may be catnip can have an impact on varroa as it does on other insects. Bees, who catnip depends on for pollination, are not impacted by the chemical defences of catnip, and seem attracted to the plant. It could be that catnip and plants like it may end the varroa menace to bees.