Wild Sicilian rosemary: phytochemical and morphological screening and antioxidant activity evaluation of extracts and essential oils

Chem Biodivers. 2015 Jul;12(7):1075-94. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.201400274.


To identify the best biotypes, an extensive survey of Sicilian wild rosemary was carried out by collecting 57 samples from various sites, followed by taxonomic characterization from an agronomic perspective. All the biotypes collected were classified as Rosmarinus officinalis L. A cluster analysis based on the morphological characteristics of the plants allowed the division of the biotypes into seven main groups, although the characteristics examined were found to be highly similar and not area-dependent. Moreover, all samples were analyzed for their phytochemical content, applying an extraction protocol to obtain the nonvolatile components and hydrodistillation to collect the essential oils for the volatile components. The extracts were characterized by LC-UV-DAD/ESI-MS, and the essential oils by GC-FID and GC/MS analyses. In the nonvolatile fractions, 18 components were identified, namely, 13 flavones, two organic acids, and three diterpenes. In the volatile fractions, a total of 82 components were found, with as predominant components α-pinene and camphene among the monoterpene hydrocarbons and 1,8-cineole, camphor, borneol, and verbenone among the oxygenated monoterpenes. Cluster analyses were carried out on both phytochemical profiles, allowing the separation of the rosemary samples into different chemical groups. Finally, the total phenol content and the antioxidant activity of the essential oils and extracts were determined with the Folin-Ciocalteu (FC) colorimetric assay, the UV radiation-induced peroxidation in liposomal membranes (UV-IP test), and the scavenging activity of the superoxide radical (O$\rm{{_{2}^{{^\cdot} -}}}$). The present study confirmed that the essential oils and organic extracts of the Sicilian rosemary samples analyzed showed a considerable antioxidant/free radical-scavenging activity.

Keywords: Antioxidant activity; Cluster Analysis (CA); Essential oils; Rosmarinus officinalis; Sicily.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Antioxidants / isolation & purification
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Ledum / chemistry*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry*
  • Phytochemicals / isolation & purification
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts