September 1st, 2015

Black plants and whether or not they're edible

Hi, I'm working on a book that features aliens from a planet that orbits a red dwarf star. One of the theories I've read through research is that the plants on this planet would be black and dark purple. One of the sites that I read explained it this way:

As indicated in NASA studies announced in 2007, plants evolved under dim red dwarf suns or in more distance habitable orbits around a brighter star may appear black to Human eyes because they would probably need to absorbing [sic] more parts of the visible wavelength range to more effectively exploit as much of the available light as possible. Indeed, some in particularly dim environments may also evolve to use energy from infrared or ultraviolet radiation to power photosynthesis.

My question is would these plants be edible? If so, what would they taste like? I posed this question to another forum and the replies dealt with them being edible as long as an overabundance of chlorophyll is not toxic. However, another answer said to the effect, "I can think of many reasons they would not be edible besides the chlorophyll." When I pressed this person to elaborate, they either ignored or did not see the question, because they never replied. So I'm a bit confused.

I've seen black variations of various Earth plants that are edible, including black tomatoes, and I've been told they taste sweeter than red tomatoes. Could this then be applied to alien plants? The black tomatoes I've seen had green stems, though, where alien plants probably would not (their stems being dark colored as well). Does this make some sort of difference?

Any info that could be provided will help me think it through. Thanks!

Search terms: Anything I used ("black plants edible," "red dwarf planet black plants edible") just came up with the same theories I've already read (which didn't answer this question) or articles about plants from Earth.
  • Current Mood: tired

Reactions to antiseptics and disinfectants (skin irritation, smell)

I'm writing a fic set in the modern-day US, and a character has some serious injuries (burns, various incisions, broken bones, etc.) from being used as a lab rat for a year. Once he finally escapes, he has to clean his injuries with whatever's readily available (any over-the-counter stuff) because he can't go to a hospital. I have a scene where he's going to use rubbing alcohol but the smell gives him a flashback because it's what the scientists would use to disinfect his skin before making any incisions (an assumption I made because alcohol is used before injections), so instead he switches to iodine, which stings more but doesn't trigger memories. And then I actually did a little research and discovered that iodine solutions are more often used before surgery and that probably does cause skin irritation, but I can't figure out whether that's the same sort of thing you might find in a first aid kit or a different solution/concentration, or what it smells like, or if that would be the obvious first choice in a first-aid kit and something less ideal would be available.

So I suppose my really specific question boils down to two parts (which themselves have multiple parts):
1. Is there a substance that a) could reasonably be used as a pre-operative antiseptic; b) has a strong, distinct smell; and c) is available over the counter in a form that at least has a similarly strong smell to whatever's used in actual surgeries?
2. Is there another substance that would a) reasonably be found in a decent first-aid kit or otherwise as a common over-the-counter antiseptic; b) hurt more than the above substance when applied to a wound; and c) have a different smell than the above substance?

I've read about alcohol, iodine, and antiseptics in general on Wikipedia and Googled stuff like "what does iodine smell like" and "antiseptics that sting" without much luck because, again, this is a weirdly specific question. I also found a couple good pages about antiseptics, but what I'm looking for--especially about smells--doesn't really show up.