Artemisia annua

Artemisia annua (Quing-hao), a fern-like weed, has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years in the treatment of fever. The active principle, artemisinin (quinghaosu, QHS, artenuin), a sesquiterpene lactone with a characteristic peroxide bridge, was isolated by Chinese scientists in 1972 from the leafy portion of the plants (). Assays carried out on other species of Artemisia failed to show any appreciable amount of artemisinin (TDR 1981). However, other species of the genus are considered important as a source of medicines and flavors. From Artemisia douglasiana, for example was isolated dehydroleucodin (DHL), a sesquiterpene lactone with antiulcerous properties (). Artemisia dracunculus, also known as tarragon, is used as a spice in cooking and to flavor vinegar, and Artemisia absintium used in the production of volatile oils (). Botanical Description Artemisia annua (), popularly known as sweet Annie, annual wormwood, or sweet wormwood is a member of the Compositae family (Asteraceae). It is an annual herbaceous plant that grows in wild forms in different parts of the world, exhibiting great variety in both shape and size. It ranges from small, almost prostrate plants to tall, erect specimens which Read more […]

Cultivation of Artemisia

The genus Artemisia includes a large number of species and some have been cultivated as commercial crops with a wide diversity of uses. Some better known examples include antimalarial (Artemisia annua – annual or sweet wormwood), culinary spices (Artemisia dracunculus – French tarragon), liquor flavouring (Artemisia absinthium – absinthe), garden ornamental (A. abrotanum – southernwood) and insect repellent (Artemisia vulgaris – mugwort). However this review will concentrate on the cultivation of Artemisia annua because of its contemporary importance as a source of new and effective antimalarial drugs. During World War II and in the years immediately following, the world wide incidence of malaria was dramatically reduced. On the one hand the Anopheles mosquito vector was successfully controlled by the advent of the insecticide DDT and on the other the organisms causing human malaria – the single celled Plasmodium species: falciparum, vivax, malariae and ovale – were effectively controlled by the use of synthetic derivatives of quinine. The specific statistics for India illustrate this dramatic reduction. In 1961 the incidence of malaria had fallen to about 100,000 reported cases, however by 1977 the number of reported Read more […]

Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.)

Large cardamom or Nepal cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxb.) is a spice cultivated in the sub-Himalayan region of north-eastern India, especially in Sikkim since time immemorial. In the past the aboriginal inhabitants of Sikkim, Lepchas, collected capsules of large cardamom from natural forest, but later on these forests passed into village ownership and the villagers started cultivation of large cardamom. The presence of wild species, locally known as churumpa, and the variability within the cultivated species supports the view of its origin in Sikkim (). Later the cultivation has spread to northern Uttar Pradesh, north-eastern States of India (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizorum and Manipur), Nepal and Bhutan. Sikkim is the largest producer of large cardamom; the annual production in India is about 3500–4000 mt of cured Large cardamom. The average productivity is 100–150 kg/ha, but in well-maintained plantations the productivity reaches 1000–2000 kg/ha. Nepal and Bhutan are the other two countries cultivating this crop with an annual production of about 1500 mt. This spice is used in Ayurvedic preparation in India as mentioned by Susruta in the sixth century BC and also known among Greeks and Romans as Amomum (Ridley, 1912). Read more […]

Solanum dulcamara L. (Bittersweet)

Biology and Distribution Solanum dulcamara L. (=Dulcamara flexuosa Moench) (), known as dogwood or bittersweet (Solanaceae), is a clambering or prostrate, perennial shrub which may grow to a height of 2 m (Hegi 1927). Its stem is angular and woody with the exception of the herbaceous top and ranges in diameter between 0.25 and 2 cm, rarely up to 5-6 cm. The leaves are alternate, long-stalked, sparsely pubescent on both sides, and quite variable in shape. The oval- to egg-shaped leaf blade is pointed at the tip. Its base, however, may also be cordate, arrow-shaped, or may consist of one or two lobes. Different leaf forms may be found on the same plant. The flowers emerge axillary in panicle-like loose clusters. The calyx bears five narrow teeth; the five joint petals are bright purple and their tips are somewhat reflexed when fully expanded. The five stamens have yellow anthers which form a conspicuous column. The fruit is a round- to egg-shaped berry, green when young and becoming bright red when mature. In Europe, the flowering season is May to September. It is distributed throughout Europe and is also a native to North Africa, West Asia, India, the USSR, China, and Japan. It is not clear whether its occurrence in Read more […]

Gypsophila paniculata L. (Baby’s Breath)

Gypsophila paniculata saponins have been used for a long time under the generic name of saponin. They have the typical properties of saponins, such as detergent, emulsive, hemolytic, and membrane-toxic substances. Research has been carried out in various biological fields, for example in studies on virus (Rous sarcoma virus), on cell membranes (of chicken liver and erythrocyte ghosts) (), in the preparation of vaccines to enhance the immune response (Freund’s adjuvent), or for use as a commercial product, known as Saponin pure white (Merck). This product has also been widely employed as a standard for hemolytic tests in most saponin determinations, and was previously reported to be extracted from roots and rhizomes of Gypsophila paniculata (). These Gypsophila paniculata saponins, as well as digitonin, have been studied for their water insoluble complexes with cholesterol (). Distribution and Importance of the Genus Gypsophila The genus Gypsophila (from the Greek gypsos: gypsum, calc, and philos: friend) contains 125 species native to the temperate regions of Eurasia (21 species in Europe), living on old walls or on gypseous ground (). A few of them are encountered in Egypt, Australia, and one species in New Zealand, Read more […]

Elettaria cardamomum Maton (Cardamom)

Cardamom is a polymorphic species of the monotypic genus Elettaria. True cardamom or lesser cardamom is a monocot belonging to the family Zingiberaceae under the natural order Scitaminae. The varietal status of true cardamom has been designated as Elettaria cardamomum var. cardamomum (syn. var. minor Watt; var. minuscula Burkhill, Purseglove 1975). The seeds, contained in the dried fruits (capsules) and possessing a characteristic pleasant aroma, are the cardamom of commerce. Rosengarter () ranked cardamom as the third costliest spice in the world. In India it is the second most important spice next to black pepper (). The plant is a tall perennial shrub (), the aerial part of which consists of 10-20 erect, leafy shoots (pseudo-stem), 2-5.5 m tall and made of leaf sheaths. The shoots and the panicle emerge from a horizontal subterranean woody rhizome. Each panicle bears numerous small, white or pale-green flowers characterized by a conspicuous labellum with violet streaks radiating from the center. The flowers are hermaphrodites. The ripe fruit () is an ovoid trilocular capsule containing 15-20 aromatic seeds. Cardamom cultivation is mainly concentrated in the southern states of India, i.e., Kerala, Karnataka, Read more […]

Antibacterial activity of eucalyptus oils

The antibacterial properties of plant volatile oils have been recognised since antiquity and have been rediscovered in more recent times. Eucalyptus leaf oils have received attention in a number of studies. Deans and Ritchie () examined the antibacterial effects of fifty volatile oils purchased from a commercial supplier, including eucalyptus, on twenty-five different bacterial genera. The culture collection consisted of food spoilage, food poisoning, human, animal and plant disease types, along with indicators of faecal pollution and secondary opportunist pathogens. Eucalyptus oil was most effective against Elavobacterium suaveolens and the dairy organism Leuconostoc cremoris. However, it was not amongst the ten most inhibitory oils (thyme, cinnamon, bay, clove, bitter almond, lovage, pimento, marjoram, angelica and nutmeg). Leaf oils from eight Brazilian-grown eucalypts were tested against Mycobacterium avium by Leite et al. (): E. botryoides, E. camaldulensis, Eucalyptus citriodora, E. deglupta, Eucalyptus globulus, E. grandis, E. maculata and E. tereticornis. M. avium was sensitive to all the oils at 10mg/ml but only four of them at 5 mg/ml: Eucalyptus citriodora, E. maculata, E. camaldulensis and E. tereticornis. Read more […]

Antifungal activity of eucalyptus oils

Human pathogens The volatile oil from Eucalyptus camaldulensis (syn. E. rostrata) has been the subject of several studies where the target organisms were dermatophytic fungi. Singh et al. () tested the oil against four human pathogens, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Epidermophyton floccosum, Microsporum cants and M. gypseum, as well as two storage fungi, Aspergillus nidulans and A. terreus. At concentrations of 10,000 ppm (1 per cent) the oil showed fungicidal activity towards all the test organisms. In a second study (), a combination of oils from E. camaldulensis and Juniperus communis was found to be more effective than either single oil against Epidermophyton floccosum, M. gypseum and Paecilomyces variotii. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and time taken to inhibit mycelial growth were less with the mixture than with the individual oils, suggesting that there were synergistic interactions between the components present in the two oils. In a wide-ranging study Pattnaik et al. () tested ten essential oils, one of them from Eucalyptus citriodora, against twelve test fungi (mostly human pathogens, with a few plant pathogens): Alternaria citrii, Aspergillus fumigatus, A. oryzae, Candida albicans, Cryptococcus Read more […]

Bergenia crassifolia (L.) Fritsch (Bergenia)

Bergenia crassifolia (L.) Fritsch, a species in the Bergenia genus belongs to the family Saxifragaceae, the order Rosales. For more than 100 years the plant has been known in Asia as a valuable raw material, a source of tannins and pigments. Apart from that, Bergenia crassifolia has been used as a medicinal and ornamental plant. Due to its rich and varied chemical composition (arbutin, tannins, bergenin) the species continues to be the object of pharmaceutical and pharmacological studies. In the light of research confirming the usefulness of this plant as a source of chemical compounds, it has become increasingly obvious that plant tissue culture should be employed to provide ‘a method of rapid multiplication of Bergenia crassifolia as an alternative to propagation from seeds. The second part of this chapter deals with arbutin determination in regenerated plants. The observations are based on the results of the experiments carried out by the authors. Systematics and Distribution of Bergenia Plants The genus Bergenia Moench (Meth. pi. 1794) which is also known in the literature under the synonymous Geryonia Schrank, Megarea Haw., Eropheron Tausch., Piarophylla Raf. and Saxifraga L. is said to consist of 11 species Read more […]

Indonesian Cassia (Indonesian Cinnamon)

Cinnamomum burmannii Nees – Indonesian cinnamon, Indonesian cassia, Java cassia, Fagot cassia, Padang cinnamon, Batavia cassia, Korintji cassia, cassia vera. Indonesian cassia or Indonesian cinnamon is the dried bark of Cinnamomum burmannii which is grown in the Malaysia-Indonesia regions and commercially cultivated in the Indonesian islands. It is grown most extensively in the Sumatera, Java and Jambi Islands and extends up to Timor, growing from sea level to about 2000 m. The main centre of cultivation is the Padang area of Sumatera, at altitudes of 500–1300 m. A variant of Cinnamomum burmannii, which has red young leaves, is grown at a higher elevation in the region of Mount Korintji (Kerinci). This cassia is of better quality and is traded in the international market as Korintji (or Kerinci) cassia. The form having green young leaves is grown at lower elevations, and is referred to in the international market as Padang cassia, Batavia cassia or cassia vera. In a small scale it is also cultivated in Phillippines. The main centres of cultivation are Jambi and west Sumatera, which have around 59,490 ha and 28,893 ha areas respectively, producing around 20,185 t and 18,525 t of cassia bark, respectively. In Read more […]