The Yellow Center of the Deadliest Flower is a Lifeline to Farmers – and the Planet
At the yellow center of a chrysanthemum species grown in Kenya lies the world's most valuable safe, and natural insecticide.
Social & Lifestyle
In Kenya, a drive through the Central Highlands will sometimes reveal a landscape covered in a beautiful white-petaled flower with a lethal secret.
The yellow center of the Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium contains one of the world’s great natural insecticides, that as well as being totally harmless to plants, humans, and animals, supports the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of rural Kenyans who supply much of the world’s pyrethrum, the principle chemical in the flower.
Pyrethrum is becoming a major tool in the fight against mosquito-borne illnesses, as the toxin attacks the central nervous system of the insect, causing it to spasm around and drop still over a 30-second period.
It’s also an excellent natural pesticide, not only for gardens and crops but livestock, who can breath a sigh of relief from biting ticks and flies if a little pyrethrum is rubbed onto their neck, legs, and shoulders.
Simply growing Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium near any plants you wish to keep insect free is enough to protect them from most pests, such is the power of the pyrethrum therein.
“Pyrethrin is the most important insecticide in the world,” says Joel Maina Kibett, chief agriculture officer of Nakuru County in Kenya. “It is natural, organic, and it has no environmental effects. And it is user friendly.”