Aspirin water can be beneficial to plants

Plants have the ability to activate a range of self-defences in response to attacks by pathogens and parasites, including Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) and induced systemic resistance (ISR).

THIS POPPY might benefit from a dose of salycilic acid.

THIS POPPY might benefit from a dose of salycilic acid.

Plants have the ability to activate a range of self-defences in response to attacks by pathogens and parasites.

The timing of these defence responses is very critical, as it can mean the difference between being able to cope with the parasite or pathogen … or succumbing to it.

Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) and induced systemic resistance (ISR) are two forms of resistance.

In both of these, the plant’s defences are preconditioned by prior infection or by treatment that results in its tolerance against subsequent attack by parasites or pathogens.

Induced systemic resistance was first observed more than 100 years ago, and to date, more than 30 species of plants have been found to have IRS responses.

Scientists had discovered some plants exhibited a hypersensitive reaction to disease that prevented its spread. They also found that the disease organism was not only localized, but the whole plant also became resistant to attack by that disease.

In a nutshell, when a plant is attacked by disease or insect, it starts to produce an abundance of certain chemical compounds. These compounds may cause resistance themselves or be the messenger that signals the plant to start producing other chemical compounds that will defend the plant against the disease or make it less of a dietary feast for insects.

Salicylic acid is one of these compounds, and it occurs naturally in many plants. It may well have evolved as a defence against insects.

Isolated from willow bark as far back as 1828, salicylic acid is chemically related to acetylsalicylic acid – or aspirin. (Bayer was the first to begin producing in 1859.)

Jump ahead to the 1990s, when scientists made the discovery that plants under attack by a disease increased their salicylic acid concentration a whopping 180 times. They also noticed a marked increase in other proteins that promoted disease resistance.

Curious about the benefits of aspirin water on plants, Martha McBurney, master gardener in charge of the demonstration vegetable garden at the University of Rhode Island, conducted some tests of her own.

After numerous trials, she found the correct dosage to be one and a half aspirin tablets (81-gram strength) dissolved into two gallons of water. (Note: aspirin must be the uncoated form and should not contain any other additives such as disprin.)

McBurney also added two tablespoons of yucca extract to help the aspirin water adhere to the leaves. A mild liquid soap can be substituted for the yucca extract.

She sprayed the plants every three weeks. By the end of the season, the plants that were sprayed with aspirin water were huge, green … and best of all, had no insects. McBurney also noted some disease problems present at the beginning of the trial appeared to have reversed themselves.

Another facet of her salicylic acid experiments was to spray aspirin water on seeds sowed directly in the ground. Her results were 100 per cent germination.

Salicylic acid is the truth behind an old wives’ tale – adding an aspirin to a vase of cut flowers will definitely keep the blooms fresh longer.

Cutting off the flower stalk triggers the plant into protecting its wound by producing a compound that not only assists the plant in fighting off bugs but also speeds up its aging and wilting process. An aspirin in the vase of water stops the production of that compound in the flower stems, which helps to keep the flowers looking lovely and fresh longer.

For the strictly organic gardeners amongst us … aspirin would not be a treatment option since it is largely synthetically produced.

Researchers are now conducting studies using pure willow extracts and comparing the results to those of the aspirin experiments.

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her column appears every second Friday.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtenay Nissan’s Matthew Bourassa, Geoff Piper and Sean LaFleur join YANA’s Ashley Smith, Kelly Rusk and Lisa Wilcox for the 4x4x48 event to raise funds. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Courtenay Nissan eats and runs for YANA

Dealership realized non-profit groups need new ways to raise funds during COVID

Rev. Sulin Milne at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Comox is part of those helping distribute food to those in need within the town. Photo by Jim Peacock
Comox church serving the community with food through COVID-19

“We knew there were so many people who were facing economic challenges …”

Cole Moore with one of his sisters, Jasmin Moore. Photo supplied
Courtenay man looks to brain surgery for second chance

Cole Moore’s sister sets up GoFundMe to help father looking after brother

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Nineteen people arrested, charges expected in Courtenay house raid

Investigators are continuing to comb through evidence seized

Demonstrators gathered Friday, March 5 at the Courtenay Court House, demanding protection of old-growth forests. Scott Stanfield photo
Concerned citizens march in Courtenay in name of old-growth rainforests

The Comox Valley is one of the B.C. communities engaged in mobilization… Continue reading

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ in Metchosin

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Most Read