Bioch. Syst. Ecol. 35 (2), 99-113, 2007.

Essential oil composition of Hypericum L. species from Southeastern Serbia and their chemotaxonomy

Andrija Smelcerovica, Michael Spitellera, Axel Patrick Ligona, Zaklina Smelcerovica and Nils Raabeb

aInstitute of Environmental Research (INFU), University of Dortmund, Otto-Hahn-Strasse 6, 44221 Dortmund, Germany
bDepartment of Statistics, University of Dortmund, Vogelpothsweg 87, 44221 Dortmund, Germany

Received 25 March 2005

Accepted 16 September 2006

Available online 13 November 2006


The essential oils of the aerial parts of nine species of Hypericum (Hypericum barbatum, Hypericum hirsutum, Hypericum linarioides, Hypericum maculatum, Hypericum olympicum, Hypericum perforatum, Hypericum richeri, Hypericum rumeliacum and Hypericum tetrapterum), collected from different locations in Southeast Serbia, were obtained by steam distillation and analyzed by GC and GC–MS. The essential oils investigated were characterized by a high content of non-terpene compounds and a low content of monoterpenes. The contents of non-terpenes, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes in oils of the species H. barbatum, H. richeri and H. rumeliacum (section Drosocaprium) were similar and these oils were characterized by high contents of fatty acids. The oils of H. hirsutum and H. linarioides (section Taeniocarpium) contained a high percentage of n-nonane. There were similarities in contents of non-terpenes and sesquiterpenes in oils of species that belong to the section Hypericum (H. maculatum, H. perforatum and H. tetrapterum). The oil of H. olympicum differed from others by higher terpene content. A comparison was also carried out of the chemical composition of the essential oils from flower, leaf and stem of H. perforatum and it revealed that the highest concentration of non-terpene compounds was found in the flower and stem oil, while a high concentration of sesquiterpenes was characteristic for leaf oil. There were significant differences in the concentrations of the same compounds in the essential oils of H. maculatum, H. olympicum and H. perforatum, collected in different years from the same location which could be explained by seasonal differences. All data were statistically processed with principal component analysis and cluster analysis. The main conclusion from the above data is that genetic and environmental factors both play a role in determining the composition of essential oils of the Hypericum species studied.

Keywords: Hypericum barbatum; Hypericum hirsutum; Hypericum linarioides; Hypericum maculatum; Hypericum olympicum; Hypericum perforatum; Hypericum richeri; Hypericum rumeliacum; Hypericum tetrapterum; Essential oil composition