Brazilian Journal of Botany

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 765–774 | Cite as

Comparison of the alkaloid content and essential oil composition of Mahonia species as measured by HPLC and GC–MS methods

  • Yanqun Li
  • Dexin Kong
  • Hong WuEmail author
Original Article


Mahonia is an important genus of the Berberidaceae family. Most species of Mahonia plants are traditional herbal medicines with various active components, and Mahonia is reported to be rich in alkaloids and essential oils. This study aimed to investigate the content of alkaloids and the chemical composition of the essential oils in five Mahonia species. Roots and stems of five Mahonia species showed higher jatrorrhizine, palmatine and berberine. The sum contents of the palmatine and berberine were all far more over 0.8% both in roots and stems of five Mahonia species. The leaves had higher oil yields than the stems of all species. Ethyl linoleate, phytol isomer, 4-terpineol and α-terpineol were the predominant component in both the stem and leaf oils of the five Mahonia species. Cedrol (2.09–4.33%) was abundant compound in the essential oil of five Mahonia species stems. The phytol content in the leaf oil was markedly higher than that measured in the stems. The essential oil composition from these Mahonia species demonstrated strong tissue and organ specificity. The roots and stems could be considered a good source of alkaloids, and the leaves could be considered a good source of essential oils of five Mahonia species. This work benefits the extensive development of this important and widely used medicinal herb.


Chemical components Quality evaluation Resource utilization Chemometrics 



This study was supported by the Nature Science Foundation of China (31500261), the Science and Technology Innovation Fund Project on Forestry of Guangdong Province (2017KJCX006), and the Youth Foundation of College of Forestry and Landscape Architecture of South China Agricultural University (201603).

Authors’ contributions

H Wu and YQ Li conceived and designed the experiments; YQ Li and DX Kong performed the experiments; and H Wu and YQ Li analyzed the data and wrote the paper.


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Copyright information

© Botanical Society of Sao Paulo 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-BioresourcesSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Guangdong Technology Research Center for Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine and Natural MedicineSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.Guangdong Key Laboratory for Innovative Development and Utilization of Forest Plant GermplasmSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouChina

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