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Economic Botany

, Volume 65, Issue 2, pp 178–189 | Cite as

Essential Oils in Mexican Bays (Litsea spp., Lauraceae): Taxonomic Assortment and Ethnobotanical Implications1

  • Nelly del Carmen Jiménez-Pérez
  • Francisco G. Lorea-Hernández
  • Christopher K. Jankowski
  • Ricardo Reyes-Chilpa
Article

Abstract

Essential Oils in Mexican Bays (Litseaspp., Lauraceae): Taxonomic Assortment and Ethnobotanical Implications. The seven species of Litsea found in Mexico, all of them popularly known as “laurel,” were surveyed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for their foliar essential oils composition and related ethnobotanical applications. Litsea glaucescens is in high demand as a condiment, and is sold in rural and urban markets all over Mexico. However, four other species are also locally used for food seasoning. Litsea guatemalensis is the species most used in traditional medicine, especially to treat fever, chills, infectious diseases of the digestive system, and arthritis. No reports of culinary, medicinal, or other applications were located for L. muelleri, and L. pringlei. This is the first report on the essential oils for L. neesiana, L. muelleri, L. parvifolia, L. pringlei, and L. schaffneri. The terpenoids commonly found in all the Litsea species studied were 1,8-cineole, linalool, α-pinene, β-pinene, m-cymene, terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol, caryophyllene, and caryophyllene oxide. Nevertheless, each species can be distinguished by its characteristic assortment of terpenoids. According to hierarchical cluster analysis, three groups of species were recognized: (1) 1,8-cineole group (C-10 terpenes), consisting of L. glaucescens, L. schaffnerii, L. pringlei, and L. muelleri; (2) limonene-rich group (C-10 oxygenated terpenes), including L. guatemalensis, and L. neesiana, and (3) oxygenated sesquiterpenes-rich group (C-15 oxygenated terpenes), comprising L. parvifolia. The chemical profiles of L. glaucescens and L. guatemalensis suggest a correlation with the culinary and medicinal uses of these species due to the known properties of their main constituents.

Key Words

Lauraceae Mexican bay laurel essential oil gas chromatography—mass spectrometry ethnobotany 

Resumen

Aceites esenciales de laureles mexicanos(Litseaspp., Lauraceae): Distribución taxonómica e implicaciones etnobotánicas. La composición de los aceites esenciales foliares de las siete especies de Litsea encontradas en México, todas ellas conocidas popularmente como “laurel,” fue analizada por cromatografía de gases acoplada a espectrometría de masas y relacionada con sus usos tradicionales. Litsea glaucescens es altamente demandada como condimento y se vende en los mercados rurales y urbanos a lo largo de todo el país. Sin embargo, otras cuatro especies, también se utilizan localmente como especias. Litsea guatemalensis es la especie más usada en la medicina tradicional para tratar fiebre, resfriados, infecciones del aparato digestivo y artritis. No se registró ningún uso para L. muelleri y L. pringlei. Se reporta por primera vez la composición de los aceites esenciales de L. neesiana, L. muelleri, L. parvifolia, L. pringlei y L. schaffneri. Los terpenoides comunes en todas las especies estudiadas de Litsea fueron: 1,8-cineol, linalool, α-pineno, β-pineno, m-cimeno, terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol, cariofileno y óxido de cariofileno, sin embargo, cada una de las siete especies puede distinguirse por un perfil característico de terpenoides. Con base en sus compuestos mayoritarios se distinguieron tres grupos: (1) rico en 1,8-cineol (monoterpenos C-10) constituido por L. glaucescens, L. schaffnerii, L. pringlei y L. muelleri; (2) rico en limoneno (monoterpenos oxigenados C-10) incluye a L. guatemalensis y L. neesiana; y (3) rico en sesquiterpenos oxygenados (C-15) que incluye a L. parvifolia, la cual posee semejanza química con otras especies asiáticas. Nuestros resultados sugieren que los perfiles químicos de L. glaucescens y L. guatemalensis están relacionados con sus aplicaciones culinarias y medicinales en razón a las propiedades conocidas de sus componentes mayoritarios.

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank herbarium curators of collections for direct access to specimens and by loans; also José Marmolejo (UANL), Felicidad García-Sánchez (IIZD), Marcos Hernández-Vázquez (CI), Carlos García-García, and Dora García Ávalos (CP) for their assistance in the field. Sincere thanks to Maribel Vázquez-Hernández (SARAH-UV) for substantial help in laboratory work, and Javier Pérez (Instituto de Química, UNAM) for preliminary GC-MS analysis, and to J.R.J. Pare and J. Belanger (Environment Canada, Ottawa) for their help in the determination of the GC-MS methodology and use of their facilities. Three anonymous reviewers provided many useful comments that improved the article. This research was possible with the economic support provided by a Ph.D. scholarship (CONACyT-190036) to the first author.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nelly del Carmen Jiménez-Pérez
    • 1
  • Francisco G. Lorea-Hernández
    • 1
  • Christopher K. Jankowski
    • 2
  • Ricardo Reyes-Chilpa
    • 3
  1. 1.Instituto de Ecología A.C.XalapaMéxico
  2. 2.Département de ChimieUniversité de MonctonMonctonCanada
  3. 3.Instituto de QuímicaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMéxico, DFMéxico

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