US chemists have found that seeds of the sweetgum fruit - gumballs - contain significant quantities of shikimic acid and could add to seasonal supplies of the seeds of the star anise fruit from which this material is usually sourced. Thomas Poon of the W.M. Keck Science Center at The Claremont Colleges in California says, "Our work gives the hearty sweetgum tree another purpose, one that may help to alleviate the worldwide shortage of shikimic acid." Shikimic acid is the starting material for flu drug oseltamivir, Tamiflu, of which adequate supplies could be critical in coping with a putative avian influenza epidemic.
Gumballing shikimic supplies