It is truly wonderful how all living beings have evolved to protect themselves from threats. Even plants have evolved to come up with superb defence strategies that keep them properly safe and protected from a wide variety of serious threats. Resin is an organic compound that is generally produced by specific trees in response to some sort of grievous injury. The task of resin is to seal the wound and prevent insects, fungi, etc. from taking advantage of the injury. Any insect that tries to enter the tree is trapped in the resin or is killed due to its toxicity.
Generally, resins are made of organic compounds called terpenes. They have the formula (C5H8) and this class consists of more than 30,000 compounds. It has been discovered that resins are natural antiseptics that help to protect the plant from fungal infections and a wide range of herbivores as well. The phenolic compounds in the resin are also known to attract other species to the plant, which can help protect it. Resin can also help to prevent loss of water due to the wound. For most trees, the resin has been one of the most important lines of plant defence.
One interesting fact about resin is that it has been used by humans as well as animals. Bees are known to use a variety of resin called propolis to seal small gaps in their hives. Propolis is a type of resin that is most commonly produced by coniferous plants like pines and poplars. Since ancient times, fossilized resin or amber has been regarded as a precious artifact by humans. Resins known as frankincense and myrrh were used for religious reasons. It is said that Jesus Christ was given these as presents by the Three Wise Men.
In coniferous trees, the resin is generally produced by the bark and the stem. There are resin ducts under the bark, which are known as “blisters”. When there is some sort of trauma to the tree, the resin is released by the blisters. The secreted resin then proceeds to “flush out” the wound and block it from being infected once more. It is during this stage that many insects and fungal spores are trapped in the resin forever. The oils in the resin are volatile and they evaporate very fast-leading to the formation of a hard “scab” on the tree.
Since ancient times, the resin obtained from trees was used by artists to varnish their ceramic work. Even in ancient Egypt, pots and earthenware made of millennia-old clay were varnished and decorated with the help of resin. Resin can truly be said to be a sort of timeless substance that has served plants, animals and humans for thousands of years. Resins are sticky, which is why they were used to make the first adhesive materials in the entire world. Resins are also known to contain essential oils, which is why they can serve therapeutic purposes for sick humans as well.
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