Wilting flowers get Viagra lift

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The Independent Online

Florists may soon have as much reason as frustrated lovers to thank their lucky stars for Viagra, the anti-impotence wonder drug.

Florists may soon have as much reason as frustrated lovers to thank their lucky stars for Viagra, the anti-impotence wonder drug.

SunBlush, an Anglo-Canadian company, has discovered that, just as it provokes a chemical reaction that causes male erections, so Viagra also provides a boost to plants, which have a similar enzyme system to humans.

By releasing nitric oxide, the wonder drug not only stimulates growth when flowers are young but also suppresses the ageing process later in life. This could increase the shelf-life of flowers and reduce the amount of decaying produce florists are forced to discard.

SunBlush is patenting the technology worldwide in the latest stage of a project that has seen more than £13m spent to find ways of extending the lifespan of flowers and fresh fruit. In the early 1980s students at the University of British Columbia hit upon a membrane that caused the metabolic rate of flowers to slow down.

To ensure the potency of this membrane, SunBlush has introduced an air-tight box in which to transport flowers. The box also ensures that only a tiny amount of Viagra has to be added to be effective.

In February, SunBlush floated on London's lightly regulated Ofex exchange in a bid to raise extra funds to finance its research. The company has since announced a link with America's largest business-to-business flower company. The shares closed on Friday at 65p.

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