Pimpinella anisum L. (Anise)

Distribution and Importance Anise originated in the eastern Mediterranean region and is native to Asia Minor, Greece and Egypt. Principal anise-growing regions are Spain, the Soviet Union, France and North Africa as well as some parts of Germany. Moreover, anise is commercially cultivated in Chile, China and the USA. The plant belongs to the Umbelliferae family, has a distinct spicy-aromatic (anise-like) smell, and an aromatic-sweetish taste, with greyish-green upside-down pear-shaped, and about 2-mm-long schizocarps of the 1-year-old herb-like plant which may grow up to 50 cm. The plant has fine fusiform roots, the ribbed stem is branched and has pubiscent leaves. The lower vegetative leaves are roundish-reniform, whereas the upper vegetative leaves consist of narrow-leaved pinnas. The blossom is an umbel with filamentous involucral bracts and white and short petals. As a medicinal herb and aromatic plant, anise is one of the oldest cultigens. Hippocrates used anise for the treatment of jaundice and, in the Middle Ages, it was taken as a medicine for cough and cancer, as well as for cases of snake and scorpion bites, mental diseases and epilepsy; it was even used as a diuretic. The first legal certification of anise Read more […]

Gloriosa superba L. (Flame Lily)

Gloriosa superba L., also known as the flame lily, has a wide distribution in tropical and subtropical areas. The plant has numerous uses as remedies and potions to the local populations of both Africa and Asia. Clewer et al. (1915) found that Gloriosa superba contained the alkaloid colchicine. Preparations of colchicine have been used to cure acute gout. Colchicine is known to inhibit mitosis, interfere with the orientation of fibrils, induce polyploidy, and has been used in the treatment of cancer. Since the discovery of colchicine in Gloriosa, a number of researchers have proposed that Gloriosa could serve as a commercial source of colchicine. Bellet and Gaignault compared the relative colchicine content of the genera Colchicum (the traditional source of colchicine) and Gloriosa. On a dry mass basis, Colchicum yielded 0.62% colchicine and 0.39% colchicoside, while Gloriosa yielded 0.9% and 0.82% respectively. This supports the argument that Gloriosa can be a commercially viable source of colchicine, provided that it can be propagated at a fast rate. Gloriosa is a member of the order Liliales and the family Colchicaceae. Members of the family Colchicaceae are geophytes, having either corms or small tubers as their Read more […]