Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 431–443 | Cite as

Wild vegetables of the Mediterranean area as valuable sources of bioactive compounds

  • M. C. Sánchez-MataEmail author
  • R. D. Cabrera Loera
  • P. Morales
  • V. Fernández-Ruiz
  • M. Cámara
  • C. Díez Marqués
  • M. Pardo-de-Santayana
  • J. Tardío
Research Article


The intake of traditionally consumed wild edible species is nowadays receiving renewed attention, due to the recognition of their potential benefits for human health. This paper represents a contribution to the knowledge of the chemical composition of different wild and under-utilized vegetables of the Mediterranean area, concerning their organic acid profile and the distribution of ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acids as vitamin C activity. Fifteen species, belonging to ten botanical families, were selected, analyzing two samples of each one from two different localities of Central Spain. Each species showed a specific organic acids fingerprint. Citric acid was 90% of total organic acids in Tamus communis; malic acid was the major one in Humulus lupulus, Taraxacum obovatum and Cichorium intybus, and oxalic acid was the main organic acid in Beta maritima, Papaver rhoeas, Silybum marianum, Foeniculum vulgare, Rumex pulcher, Silene vulgaris, Scolymus hispanicus, Rumex papillaris and Bryonia dioica. The distribution of ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acid was highly variable. Mean values for total vitamin C ranged between 1.5 and 79.4 mg/100 g. Tamus communis, R. pulcher, S. vulgaris and B. dioica, showed the highest content of AA, and together with F. vulgare and H. lupulus, the highest total vitamin C content. These results can be useful to complete food composition databases with the inclusion of wild vegetables from the Mediterranean area, contributing to enhance the diversity of the diet as well as its nutritional quality.


Bioactive compounds Neglected and underutilized wild species Nutritional value Organic acids Vitamin C 



Research funding for this work was obtained from ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) and the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (CGL2006-09546/BOS). We want to thank to Ramón Morales, Susana González and María Molina for collaborating in the gathering and preparation of the samples and for their comments about the manuscript. Antonio Galán helped in the correct determination of Taraxacum specimens.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. Sánchez-Mata
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. D. Cabrera Loera
    • 1
  • P. Morales
    • 2
  • V. Fernández-Ruiz
    • 1
  • M. Cámara
    • 1
  • C. Díez Marqués
    • 1
  • M. Pardo-de-Santayana
    • 3
  • J. Tardío
    • 4
  1. 1.Dpto. Nutrición y Bromatología II. Facultad de FarmaciaUniversidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Dpto. de Ciencias de la SaludUniversidad Internacional Valenciana (VIU)ValenciaSpain
  3. 3.Dpto. Biología (Botánica), Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)MadridSpain
  4. 4.Instituto Madrileño de Investigación y Desarrollo Rural, Agrario y Alimentario (IMIDRA)Alcalá de HenaresSpain

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