06/11/2012 09:58 EDT | Updated 08/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Lupins explored for medicines, pesticides

A researcher on P.E.I. believes he can find uses for lupins apart from beautifying Island highways.

The wildflowers spread across P.E.I. ditches and roadways in June. Agriculture Canada research scientist Jason McCallum believes lupins could be good for more than just a pretty drive through the countryside.

"There's a family of compounds known as isoflavones. Sources of isoflavones on the market are soybeans, alfalfa, or red clover," said McCallum.

"Lupins could be an alternative source,"

Isoflavones are an estrogen-like chemical believed to ease the symptoms of menopause as well as acting as a protection against heart disease, osteoporosis and some cancers.

In addition, McCallum said chemicals lupins release into the soil could help control pests if planted as part of a crop rotation.

"We're also interested in the nasty compounds that are present in lupins, and whether those could be used to kill insects or kill fungi," he said.

McCallum is still in the preliminary stages of his research, but hopes to drum up more support this project over the summer.