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Valorizing overlooked local crops in the era of globalization: the case of aniseed (Pimpinella anisum L.) from Castignano (central Italy)

Iannarelli, Romilde, Caprioli, Giovanni, Sut, Stefania, Dall’Acqua, Stefano, Fiorini, Dennis, Vittori, Sauro, Maggi, Filippo
Industrial crops and products 2017 v.104 pp. 99-110
Pimpinella anisum, anise, crops, ecotypes, essential oils, foreign markets, globalization, phenolic compounds, polar compounds, risk, Italy, Mediterranean region, Middle East
In the era of globalization, some local crops are at risk of extinction due to low competitiveness against products coming from foreign markets. This is the case of aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) from Castignano (Marche, central Italy), which was extensively cultivated in central Italy in the XIX century then abandoned after the global market favored products manufactured in Middle East countries. In order to support scientifically the recovery of this local crop, we performed a phytochemical investigation on the essential oil and polar compounds of aniseed cultivated in different fields of Castignano in the years 2013–2015 with the aim to demonstrate its high-quality value. For the purpose, the ‘Castignano ecotype’ samples were compared for essential oil yield, (E)-anethole levels and phenolic content with commercial samples of the Mediterranean area. Furthermore, several phenolic compounds were characterized by HPLC–MSn. Results showed that aniseed cultivated in Castignano contains higher content of essential oil and phenolic compounds than commercial samples, and provided the scientific rationale for its complete recovery and valorization.