Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1211–1222 | Cite as

Drugs of plant origin from the “Carlo Erba” collection of the Botanical Museum in Portici “Orazio Comes

  • Antonella MonacoEmail author
  • Giuseppina Chianese
  • Marisa Idolo


The aim of this paper is to illustrate the origin and composition of a collection of 192 plant drugs, based on archival documents from 1932 to 1940. This unique collection was produced in 1937 by the pharmaceutical company “Carlo Erba” of Milan at the request of prof. Giuseppe Catalano, director of the Botanical Institute in Portici. The 192 plant drugs, coming from almost all continents, belong to 78 botanical families among which the Asteraceae with 17 species and the Fabaceae with 15 species are the most represented. Twenty-eight of them are classified as poisonous even if used for a long time in the Italian and European pharmacopoeia. One hundred eleven plant samples from the collection were already known as plant remedies and described in two ancient books in the Historical Library of the Orazio Comes Botanical Museum, dedicated to medicinal plants: the first dated 1585 and the second dated 1712. Among the many plant species that make it up, 13 of them have been selected for their anticancer effect which has either been known since long or is currently being studied.


Anticancer effect Chemical composition Medicinal plants Plant drugs 


Supplementary material

11101_2019_9637_MOESM1_ESM.docx (42 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 42 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MUSA – Centro Museale Musei delle Scienze AgrarieUniversity of Naples Federico IIPorticiItaly

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