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Seasonal, Spatial, and Interspecific Variation in Quercetin in Apocynum venetum and Poacynum hendersonii, Chinese Traditional Herbal Teas

Ma, Miao, Hong, Cheng-lin, An, Shu-qing, Li, Bo
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2003 v.51 no.8 pp. 2390-2393
Apocynum, autumn, blood pressure, climate, free radicals, harvest date, herbal tea, high performance liquid chromatography, interspecific variation, leaves, neoplasms, phenolic compounds, phloem, quercetin, stems, summer, China, Japan
Quercetin is of particular importance as it has been found to have functions of suppressing tumors, reducing blood pressure, and scavenging free radicals. It is one of the major flavonoids in Apocynum venetum and Poacynum hendersonii, whose leaves have long been used as traditional herbal teas in China and Japan. Both species are also cultivated as fiber plants because of their outstanding quality of phloem fiber in stems. To obtain high output of both quercetin and fiber, it is necessary to optimize harvesting time for their leaves. Thus, understanding the developmental patterns of quercetin in leaves and fiber in stems is crucial to achieving this goal. In the present study, temporal and interspecific variations in quercetin in the leaves between A. venetum and P. hendersonii and spatial variation among P. hendersonii populations were studied by HPLC during the period from April to October in 1999. The results show that the content of quercetin in both species reached its highest level in summer and its lowest in autumn. The quercetin content in the leaves of P. hendersonii was generally higher than that of A. venetum no matter when their leaves were harvested. There was significant difference in quercetin content among three geographical populations of P. hendersonii, which might be the result of climatic differencecooler climate might favor accumulation of quercetin in the leaves of P. hendersonii. Furthermore, the developmental patterns of total phenolics in the leaves of the two species were the same as that of the quercetin, that is, summer is an optimal harvesting season for both quercetin and other phenolics. The results obtained here suggest that P. herdersonii is a better material for herbal tea or pharmaceutical purposes, and that the best harvest time of its leaves should be summer.