Ordinary Items Exhibit Extraordinary Uses

It must be the frugal gal in me that loves to find multiple uses for one item. I'm a sucker for those articles that unveil 101 uses for vinegar or 10 ways to reuse dryer sheets. I marvel at the bright minds that look at mundane items and see myriad uses.

Well imagine my giddy reaction when I read about scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute in Munich, Germany, finding yet another good use for dandelions (using dandelions to make wine is brilliant). Seems these researchers feel the dandelion is a potential source of natural rubber.

According to the article, "The white liquid that seeps from a broken dandelion stalk is natural latex, but the sap is ill-suited for industrial use because it immediately begins to harden. The researchers identified an enzyme in the plant that causes this rapid polymerization and found that the sap can produce five times more latex if the enzyme is chemically 'turned off.'"

Another article notes, "If the plants were to be cultivated on a large scale, every hectare would produce 500 to 1000 kilograms (1,100 to 2,200 pounds) of latex per growing season."

Imagine a world where we are actually growing dandelions instead of trying to eradicate them as bothersome weeds. And imagine all the wine we could make from the discarded blooms!

Traci Purdum
Senior Digital Editor