Posted: Feb 7, 2019

Photo: Andreas Lambrianides

Certain plants contain complex organic molecules that attract the attention of chemists. In June 2018, a team from Kanazawa University, Japan, revealed that the essential oil of the red-fruited laurel (Cryptocarya laevigata, above) – a little-studied eastern Australian rainforest endemic – has an oddly novel molecular structure previously unknown in a natural product. Oil from the plant’s leaves and twigs is made up of a unique nine-membered carbon ‘spiro-nonene’, which chemists believe is configured in an entirely new way. C. laevigata oil also contains six new lactones configured in cyclic esters – compounds which give off fruity perfumes – that are unusually bicyclised in two interlocking rings, resulting in a new name ‘cryptolaevilactones’.

F Tsurumi, et al. 2018. Organic letters 20. DOI: 10.1021/acs.orglett.8b00624