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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - January 24, 2007

From: Portland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: General Botany, Trees
Title: Alleotrophic effects of caffeine found in Ilex species
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I'm doing research for my biology class on the alleotrophic effects of caffeine. I'm planning to use Ilex vomitoria as the caffeine-producing plant. As the control I want to use another non-caffeine-producing holly, but I'm having trouble finding a source that states which hollies do or do not produce caffeine. Could you please help me?

ANSWER:

We do not know of any resource that specifically documents the caffeine content of various Ilex species. However, in designing your experiment, you will probably need to know not only what species contain caffeine, but which plant parts contain the compound and in what concentrations. So you will likely need to first measure the caffeine content of your test plants anyway. Moreover, you will need to determine by what mechanism your test plants impart their allelotrophic effects. This will also be important to know before you can study the allelotrophic effect of the test plants.

 

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