Morphometrics and chemometrics as tools for medicinal and aromatic plants characterization
The characterization of commercialized and consumed plants is of extreme importance, in order to provide clear data regarding the quality of plants, but also concerning the intake, by consumers, of several important compounds present is those plants. Hence, the objective of this work was to provide a detailed morphological and biochemical description of commercial samples of five common medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP’s) (Coriandrum sativum L. –coriander, Mentha spicata L. – spearmint, Ocimum basilicum L. – basil, Origanum vulgare L. – oregano and Petroselinum crispum Mill. – parsley). For the studied species, statistically significant differences were evident for all the morpho-analytical characteristics investigated, as well as for the majority of the evaluated biochemical parameters. Specific leaf area was higher in Coriandrum sativum, while the water content of the leaves of Ocimum basilicum was the highest. Regarding photosynthetic pigments, when statistical differences were detected, these indicated the presence of larger amounts of chlorophyll and carotenoids in the leaves of Coriandrum sativum and Petroselinum crispum. Carbohydrate quantification indicated a considerably higher content in Petroselinum crispum, which also contained higher concentrations of protein, together with Coriandrum sativum. Quantification of total phenolic and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances indicated that they were correlated, with leaves of Mentha spicata presenting the highest values, on both parameters. This work provides an overview of selected characteristics of MAP’s that are available for purchase, and are actually consumed by consumers. Data are publicly available from the open access repository OpenAgrar, doi: 10.5073/openagrar.2017.000001.