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Male Fern Rhizome – Dryopteris crassirhizoma nakai

Male Fern Rhizome – Dryopteris crassirhizoma

Sources : Male Fern Rhizome is the dried rhizome and front bases of Dryopteris crassirhizoma Nakai. The drug is collected in autumn, pared off front and fibrous root, washed clean, dried in the sun.

Action: To remove heat, counteract toxicity, and expel intestina worms. Rhizoma Dryopteris Crassirhizomae (carbonized): to arrest bleeding.

Indications: Abdominal pain due to intestinal worm, sores.

Rhizoma Dryopteris Crassirhizomae (Carbonized): Abnormal uterine bleeding.

A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem (making them vascular plants). They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants. Ferns do not have either seeds or flowers (they reproduce via spores).

By far the largest group of ferns are the leptosporangiate ferns, but ferns as defined here (also called monilophytes) include horsetails, whisk ferns, marattioid ferns, and ophioglossoid ferns. The term pteridophyte also refers to ferns (and possibly other seedless vascular plants; see classification section below).

Ferns first appear in the fossil record 360 million years ago in the Carboniferous but many of the current families and species did not appear until roughly 145 million years ago in the late Cretaceous (after flowering plants came to dominate many environments).

Ferns are not of major economic importance, but some are grown or gathered for food, as ornamental plants, or for remediating contaminated soils. Some are significant weeds. They also feature in mythology, medicine, and art.

Life cycle

Gametophyte (thalloid green mass) and sporophyte (ascendent frond) of Onoclea sensibilis

Ferns are vascular plants differing from lycophytes by having true leaves (megaphylls). They differ from seed plants (gymnosperms and angiosperms) in their mode of reproduction—lacking flowers and seeds. Like all other vascular plants, they have a life cycle referred to as alternation of generations, characterized by a diploid sporophytic and a haploid gametophytic phase. Unlike the gymnosperms and angiosperms, the ferns’ gametophyte is a free-living organism.

Life cycle of a typical fern:

  1. A sporophyte (diploid) phase produces haploid spores by meiosis.
  2. A spore grows by mitosis into a gametophyte, which typically consists of a photosynthetic prothallus.
  3. The gametophyte produces gametes (often both sperm and eggs on the same prothallus) by mitosis.
  4. A mobile, flagellate sperm fertilizes an egg that remains attached to the prothallus.
  5. The fertilized egg is now a diploid zygote and grows by mitosis into a sporophyte (the typical “fern” plant).

Fern ecology

Ferns at Muir Woods, California

The stereotypic image of ferns growing in moist shady woodland nooks is far from being a complete picture of the habitats where ferns can be found growing. Fern species live in a wide variety of habitats, from remote mountain elevations, to dry desert rock faces, to bodies of water or in open fields. Ferns in general may be thought of as largely being specialists in marginal habitats, often succeeding in places where various environmental factors limit the success of flowering plants. Some ferns are among the world’s most serious weed species, including the bracken fern growing in the British highlands, or the mosquito fern (Azolla) growing in tropical lakes, both species forming large aggressively spreading colonies. There are four particular types of habitats that ferns are found in: moist, shady forests; crevices in rock faces, especially when sheltered from the full sun; acid wetlands including bogs and swamps; and tropical trees, where many species are epiphytes (something like a quarter to a third of all fern species).

Many ferns depend on associations with mycorrhizal fungi. Many ferns only grow within specific pH ranges; for instance, the climbing fern (Lygodium) of eastern North America will only grow in moist, intensely acid soils, while the bulblet bladder fern (Cystopteris bulbifera), with an overlapping range, is only found on limestone.

The spores are rich in lipids, protein and calories and some vertebrates so eat these. The European woodmouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) has been found to eat the spores of Culcita macrocarpa and the bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) and the short-tailed bat (Mystaina tuberculata) also eat fern spores.

Fern structure

Ferns at the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens

Tree ferns, probably Dicksonia antarctica, growing in Nunniong, Australia

Like the sporophytes of seed plants, those of ferns consist of:

  • Stems: Most often an underground creeping rhizome, but sometimes an above-ground creeping stolon (e.g., Polypodiaceae), or an above-ground erect semi-woody trunk (e.g., Cyatheaceae) reaching up to 20 m in a few species (e.g., Cyathea brownii on Norfolk Island and Cyathea medullaris in New Zealand).
  • Leaf: The green, photosynthetic part of the plant. In ferns, it is often referred to as a frond, but this is because of the historical division between people who study ferns and people who study seed plants, rather than because of differences in structure. New leaves typically expand by the unrolling of a tight spiral called a crozier or fiddlehead. This uncurling of the leaf is termed circinate vernation. Leaves are divided into three types:
    • Trophophyll: A leaf that does not produce spores, instead only producing sugars by photosynthesis. Analogous to the typical green leaves of seed plants.
    • Sporophyll: A leaf that produces spores. These leaves are analogous to the scales of pine cones or to stamens and pistil in gymnosperms and angiosperms, respectively. Unlike the seed plants, however, the sporophylls of ferns are typically not very specialized, looking similar to trophophylls and producing sugars by photosynthesis as the trophophylls do.
    • Brophophyll: A leaf that produces abnormally large amounts of spores. Their leaves are also larger than the other leaves but bear a resemblance to trophophylls.
  • Roots: The underground non-photosynthetic structures that take up water and nutrients from soil. They are always fibrous and are structurally very similar to the roots of seed plants.

The gametophytes of ferns, however, are very different from those of seed plants. They typically consist of:

  • Prothallus: A green, photosynthetic structure that is one cell thick, usually heart or kidney shaped, 3–10 mm long and 2–8 mm broad. The prothallus produces gametes by means of:
    • Antheridia: Small spherical structures that produce flagellate sperm.
    • Archegonia: A flask-shaped structure that produces a single egg at the bottom, reached by the sperm by swimming down the neck.
  • Rhizoids: root-like structures (not true roots) that consist of single greatly elongated cells, water and mineral salts are absorbed over the whole structure. Rhizoids anchor the prothallus to the soil.

One difference between sporophytes and gametophytes might be summed up by the saying that “Nothing eats ferns, but everything eats gametophytes.” This is an over-simplification, but it is true that gametophytes are often difficult to find in the field because they are far more likely to be food than are the sporophytes.

Evolution and classification

Ferns first appear in the fossil record in the early-Carboniferous period. By the Triassic, the first evidence of ferns related to several modern families appeared. The “great fern radiation” occurred in the late-Cretaceous, when many modern families of ferns first appeared.

One problem with fern classification is the problem of cryptic species. A cryptic species is a species that is morphologically similar to another species, but differs genetically in ways that prevent fertile interbreeding. A good example of this is the currently designated species Asplenium trichomanes, the maidenhair spleenwort. This is actually a species complex that includes distinct diploid and tetraploid races. There are minor but unclear morphological differences between the two groups, which prefer distinctly differing habitats. In many cases such as this, the species complexes have been separated into separate species, thus raising the number of overall fern species. Possibly many more cryptic species are yet to be discovered and designated.

Ferns have traditionally been grouped in the Class Filices, but modern classifications assign them their own phylum or division in the plant kingdom, called Pteridophyta, also known as Filicophyta. The group is also referred to as Polypodiophyta, (or Polypodiopsida when treated as a subdivision of tracheophyta (vascular plants), although Polypodiopsida sometimes refers to only the leptosporangiate ferns). The term “pteridophyte” has traditionally been used to describe all seedless vascular plants, making it synonymous with “ferns and fern allies”. This can be confusing since members of the fern phylum Pteridophyta are also sometimes referred to as pteridophytes. The study of ferns and other pteridophytes is called pteridology, and one who studies ferns and other pteridophytes is called a pteridologist.

Traditionally, three discrete groups of plants have been considered ferns: two groups of eusporangiate ferns—families Ophioglossaceae (adders-tongues, moonworts, and grape-ferns) and Marattiaceae—and the leptosporangiate ferns. The Marattiaceae are a primitive group of tropical ferns with a large, fleshy rhizome, and are now thought to be a sibling taxon to the main group of ferns, the leptosporangiate ferns. Several other groups of plants were considered “fern allies”: the clubmosses, spikemosses, and quillworts in the Lycopodiophyta, the whisk ferns in Psilotaceae, and the horsetails in the Equisetaceae. More recent genetic studies have shown that the Lycopodiophyta are more distantly related to other vascular plants, having radiated evolutionarily at the base of the vascular plant clade, while both the whisk ferns and horsetails are as much “true” ferns as are the Ophioglossoids and Marattiaceae. In fact, the whisk ferns and Ophioglossoids are demonstrably a clade, and the horsetails and Marattiaceae are arguably another clade. Molecular data—which remain poorly constrained for many parts of the plants’ phylogeny — have been supplemented by recent morphological observations supporting the inclusion of Equisetaceae within the ferns, notably relating to the construction of their sperm, and peculiarities of their roots (Smith et al. 2006, and references therein). However, there are still differences of opinion about the placement of the Equisetum species (see Equisetopsida for further discussion).

One possible means of treating this situation is to consider only the leptosporangiate ferns as “true” ferns, while considering the other three groups as “fern allies”. In practice, numerous classification schemes have been proposed for ferns and fern allies, and there has been little consensus among them. A new classification by Smith et al. (2006) is based on recent molecular systematic studies, in addition to morphological data. This classification divides extant ferns into four classes:

  • Psilotopsida (whisk ferns and ophioglossoid ferns), about 92 species
  • Equisetopsida (horsetails), about 15 species
  • Marattiopsida, about 150 species
  • Polypodiopsida (leptosporangiate ferns), about 9000 species

The last group includes most plants familiarly known as ferns. Modern research supports older ideas based on morphology that the Osmundaceae diverged early in the evolutionary history of the leptosporangiate ferns; in certain ways this family is intermediate between the eusporangiate ferns and the leptosporangiate ferns.

Cultural connotations

Blätter des Manns Walfarn. by Alois Auer, Vienna: Imperial Printing Office, 1853

Ferns figure in folklore, for example in legends about mythical flowers or seeds.[8] In Slavic folklore, ferns are believed to bloom once a year, during the Ivan Kupala night. Although alleged to be exceedingly difficult to find, anyone who sees a “fern flower” is thought to be guaranteed to be happy and rich for the rest of their life. Similarly, Finnish tradition holds that one who finds the “seed” of a fern in bloom on Midsummer night will, by possession of it, be guided and be able to travel invisibly to the locations where eternally blazing Will o’ the wisps called aarnivalkea mark the spot of hidden treasure. These spots are protected by a spell that prevents anyone but the fern-seed holder from ever knowing their locations.

“Pteridomania”‘ is a term for the Victorian era craze of fern collecting and fern motifs in decorative art including pottery, glass, metals, textiles, wood, printed paper, and sculpture “appearing on everything from christening presents to gravestones and memorials.” The fashion for growing ferns indoors led to the development of the Wardian case, a glazed cabinet that would exclude air pollutants and maintain the necessary humidity.

Barnsley fern created using chaos game, through an Iterated function system (IFS).

The dried form of ferns was also used in other arts, being used as a stencil or directly inked for use in a design. The botanical work, The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland, is a notable example of this type of nature printing. The process, patented by the artist and publisher Henry Bradbury, impressed a specimen on to a soft lead plate. The first publication to demonstrate this was Alois Auer’s The Discovery of the Nature Printing-Process.

Medicinal Value

Ferns are sometimes used in medicine to treat cuts and clean them out. Ferns are also good bandages if you are stuck out in the wild. Rubbing a sword fern frond spore-side-down on a stinging nettle sting removes the stinging.

Misunderstood names

Several non-fern plants are called “ferns” and are sometimes confused with true ferns. These include:

  • “Asparagus fern”—This may apply to one of several species of the monocot genus Asparagus, which are flowering plants.
  • “Sweetfern”—A flowering shrub of the genus Comptonia.
  • “Air fern”—A group of animals called hydrozoan that are distantly related to jellyfish and corals. They are harvested, dried, dyed green, and then sold as a “plant” that can “live on air”. While it may look like a fern, it is merely the skeleton of this colonial animal.
  • “Fern bush”—Chamaebatiaria millefolium—a rose family shrub with fern-like leaves.

In addition, the book Where the Red Fern Grows has elicited many questions about the mythical “red fern” named in the book. There is no such known plant, although there has been speculation that the oblique grape-fern, Sceptridium dissectum, could be referred to here, because it is known to appear on disturbed sites and its fronds may redden over the winter.

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Pumpkin Seed – Cucurbita moschata Duch

Pumpkin Seed – Cucurbita moschata Duch

Pumpkin is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). In the United States and Canada it is a common name of or can refer to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata. They are typically orange or yellow and have many creases running from the stem to the bottom. They have a thick shell on the outside, with seeds and pulp on the inside.

In British and Australian English, pumpkin generally refers to what North Americans call winter squash, but would include the above species. This article is based on the North American definition.

Pumpkin seed oil (Kernöl or Kürbiskernöl in German, bučno olje in Slovenian, bučino ulje or bundevino ulje in Serbian and Croatian, and tökmag-olaj in Hungarian), a culinary specialty of south eastern Austria (Styria), eastern Slovenia (Styria and Prekmurje), north western Croatia (esp. Međimurje), adjacent regions of Hungary, is a European Union Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product.

Today the oil is an important export commodity of Austrian and Slovenian parts of Styria. It is made by pressing roasted, hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), from a local variety of pumpkin, the “Styrian oil pumpkin” (Cucurbita pepo var. styriaca, also known as var. oleifera). It has been produced and used in Styria’s southern parts at least since the 18th century. The earliest confirmed record of oil pumpkin seeds in Styria (from the estate of a farmer in Gleinstätten) dates to February 18, 1697.

The viscous oil is light to very dark green to dark red in colour depending on the thickness of the observed sample. The oil appears green in thin layer and red in thick layer. Such optical phenomenon is called dichromatism. Pumpkin oil is one of the substances with strongest dichromatism. Its Kreft’s dichromaticity index is -44. Used together with yoghurt, the colour turns to bright green and is sometimes referred to as “green-gold”.

Medicinal uses

Claims, based on local folk medicine, suggesting usefulness of the oil in the prevention and treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia may be backed by some studies showing clinically proven efficacy (particularly along with Serenoa repens, saw palmetto, and Pygeum africanum) according to the criteria of evidence-based medicine. [citation needed]

Pumpkin seed oil is most commonly used to treat irritable bowel syndrome. [citation needed] Small studies have also shown that pumpkin seeds, which contain amino acids, steroidal compounds, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, may lower the risk of certain types of kidney stones and improve symptoms associated with enlarged prostates Additionally, pumpkin seeds reportedly contain significant amounts of tryptophan and lysine. Some studies have also found pumpkin seeds to prevent arteriosclerosis and regulate cholesterol levels. [citation needed]

Pumpkin seed oil, commonly prescribed in German folk medicine, remedies parasitic infestations of the intestinal tract such as tapeworms.

The Benefits of Pumpkin Seed

Pumpkin seeds are one of nature’s almost perfect foods. They are a natural source of beneficial constituents such as carbohydrates, amino acids and unsaturated fatty acids. They contain most of the B vitamins, along with C, D, E, and K. They also have the minerals calcium, potassium, and phosphorous. Pumpkin seeds have mainly been used to treat prostate and bladder problems, but they have also been known to help with depression and learning disabilities.

Native American tribes were among the first people to notice the beneficial aspects of pumpkin seeds. They referred to them as cucurbita and used them to treat kidney problems and to eliminate parasites from the intestines.

Because pumpkin seeds turned up so frequently in folk medicines, scientists began to conduct research on the oil extracted from them. One study showed pumpkin seed oil kept hormones from inflicting damage on the cells of the prostate, which helps to reduce cancer development. Another study revealed that the seeds contain a significant amount of L-tryptophan, which is beneficial in battling depression (although it is believed the seeds don’t have enough to treat major depression, they can be used as a preventive measure). Other studies showed pumpkin seeds can improve bladder and urethra function. And they are thought to help stop the formation of kidney stones, even though the ingredient responsible is unknown. Pumpkin seeds have also been used to treat learning disorders and are generally recommended in some countries as a ‘brain food.’ Other studies have shown they prevent hardening of the arteries and help regulate cholesterol levels.

Using pumpkin seeds in cooking is popular in many cultures. Adding roasted pumpkin seeds to soups and salads provides a nutty flavor; and pumpkin seed oil can be used as a salad dressing when combined with products like honey and olive oil. Roasted pumpkin seeds are of course commonly eaten as snacks, but be aware that while roasting brings out their full flavor, the heat also destroys their natural fatty acids. Thus they are most nutritious when eaten raw. Also make sure to refrigerate pumpkin seeds so the oil does not turn rancid.

When buying pumpkin seed oil it is important to check that the label doesn’t list too much sunflower seed oil. Some manufacturers add a lot of sunflower oil to reduce costs since extracting oil from pumpkin seeds is a tedious and complicated process.

A common folk remedy in Germany uses pumpkin seed oil to treat tapeworms, although some say the act is somewhat risky. A person with tapeworms is given approximately ten ounces of ground pumpkin seeds combined with milk and honey. Two hours later, castor oil is given and the tapeworms are eliminated. Studies in China have shown that pumpkin seeds are beneficial to people with a rare parasitic disease received from snails called schistosomiasis. So far the disease has only been found in Africa and Asia.

Pumpkin seeds have been known to cause upset stomach in some people, but they do not interact with other medications as far as anyone knows.

Sources : Pumkin Seed is the dried seed of Cucurbita moschata Duch. the drug is collected in summer and autumn, remove from tissues, washed clean, and dried in hte sun.

Action: to kill parasites.

Indications: Taeniasis, ascarids, schistosomiasis, filariasis.

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Watermelon

Watermelon

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Scientific Name: Citrullus Vulgaris

Biological Background: The fruit of an annual vine belonging to the squash and melon family. Watermelon originated in Africa and has been cultivated since ancient times in the Mediterranean region, Egypt and India.

Nutritional Information: One slice of watermelon (480 g) contains 152 calories, 3 g protein, 34.6 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g fiber, 560 mg potassium, 176 mg vitamin A (RE), 47 mg vitamin C, 0.3 mg thiamin, 0.1 mg riboflavin, and 0.96 mg niacin.

History

Watermelon is thought to have originated in southern Africa, where it is found growing wild, because it reaches maximum genetic diversity resulting in sweet, bland and bitter forms there. Alphonse de Candolle, in 1882, already considered the evidence sufficient to prove that watermelon was indigenous to tropical Africa. Though Citrullus colocynthis is often considered to be a wild ancestor of watermelon, and is now found native in north and west Africa, Fenny Dane and Jiarong Liu, suggest on the basis of chloroplast DNA investigations, that the cultivated and wild watermelon appear to have diverged independently from a common ancestor, possibly C. ecirrhosus from Namibia.

It is not known when the plant was first cultivated, but Zohary and Hopf note evidence of its cultivation in the Nile Valley from at least as early as the second millennium BC. Although watermelon is not depicted in any Egyptian hieroglyphic text nor does any ancient writer mention it, finds of the characteristically large seed are reported in Twelfth dynasty sites; numerous watermelon seeds were recovered from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

By the 10th century AD, watermelons were being cultivated in China, which is today the world’s single largest watermelon producer. By the 13th century, Moorish invaders had introduced the fruit to Europe; and, according to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, “watermelon” made its first appearance in an English dictionary in 1615.

In Vietnam, legend holds that watermelon was discovered in Vietnam long before it reached China, in the era of the Hùng Kings. According to legend, watermelon was discovered by Prince Mai An Tiêm, an adopted son of the 11th Hùng King. When he was exiled unjustly to an island, he was told that if he could survive for six months, he would be allowed to return. When he prayed for guidance, a bird flew past and dropped a seed. He cultivated the seed and called its fruit “dưa tây” or western melon, because the birds who ate it flew from the west. When the Chinese took over Vietnam in about 110 BC, they called the melons “dưa hảo” (good melon) or “dưa hấu”, “dưa Tây”, “dưa hảo”, “dưa hấu”—all words for “watermelon”. An Tiêm’s island is now a peninsula in the suburban district of Nga

Nutrition

Watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight. As with many other fruits, it is a source of vitamin C.

Notable is the inner rind or the watermelon which is usually a light green or white color. This area is edible and contains many hidden nutrients that most people avoid eating due to its void taste.

The amino acid citrulline was first extracted from watermelon and analysed. Watermelons contain a significant amount of citrulline and after consumption of several kg an elevated concentration is measured in the blood plasma; this could be mistaken for citrullinaemia or other urea cycle disorder.

Watermelon rinds are also edible, and sometimes used as a vegetable. In China, they are stir-fried, stewed, or more often pickled. When stir-fried, the de-skinned and de-fruited rind is cooked with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, scallions, sugar and rum. Pickled watermelon rind is also commonly consumed in the Southern US, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.[citation needed] In the Balkans, especially Serbia, watermelon slatko is also popular. Watermelon juice can also be made into wine.

Watermelon is also mildly diuretic.

Watermelons contain large amounts of beta carotene.

Watermelon with red flesh is a significant source of lycopene.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Varieties

  • Carolina Cross: This variety of watermelon produced the current world record watermelon weighing 262 pounds (119 kg). It has green skin, red flesh and commonly produces fruit between 65 and 150 pounds (29 and 68 kg). It takes about 90 days from planting to harvest.
  • Yellow Crimson Watermelon: variety of watermelon that has a yellow colored flesh. This particular type of watermelon has been described as “sweeter” and more “honey” flavored than the more popular red flesh watermelon.
  • Orangeglo: This variety has a very sweet orange pulp, and is a large oblong fruit weighing 9–14 kg (20-30 pounds). It has a light green rind with jagged dark green stripes. It takes about 90–100 days from planting to harvest.
  • The Moon and Stars variety of watermelon has been around since 1926. The rind is purple/black and has many small yellow circles (stars) and one or two large yellow circles (moon). The melon weighs 9–23 kg (20-50 pounds).The flesh is pink or red and has brown seeds. The foliage is also spotted. The time from planting to harvest is about 90 days.
  • Cream of Saskatchewan: This variety consists of small round fruits, around 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter. It has a quite thin, light green with dark green striped rind, with sweet white flesh and black seeds. It can grow well in cool climates. It was originally brought to Saskatchewan, Canada by Russian immigrants. These melons take 80–85 days from planting to harvest.
  • Melitopolski: This variety has small round fruits roughly 28–30 cm (11-12 inches) in diameter. It is an early ripening variety that originated from the Volga River region of Russia, an area known for cultivation of watermelons. The Melitopolski watermelons are seen piled high by vendors in Moscow in summer. This variety takes around 95 days from planting to harvest.
  • Densuke Watermelon: This variety has round fruit up to 25 lb (11 kg). The rind is black with no stripes or spots. It is only grown on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, where up to 10 000 watermelons are produced every year. In June 2008, one of the first harvested watermelons was sold at an auction for 650 000 yen (6300 USD), making the most expensive watermelon ever sold. The average selling price is generally around 25 000 yen (250 USD).

Watermelon flowers

Culture

For commercial plantings, one beehive per acre (over 9,000 m² per hive) is the minimum recommendation by the US Department of Agriculture for pollination of conventional, seeded varieties. Because seedless hybrids have sterile pollen; pollinizer rows of varieties with viable pollen must also be planted.

Since the supply of viable pollen is reduced and pollination is much more critical in producing the seedless variety, the recommended number of hives per acre, or pollinator density, increases to three hives per acre (1,300 m² per hive).

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