Polish Yellow Sweet Clover (Melilotus officinalis L.) Honey, Chromatographic Fingerprints, and Chemical Markers

Molecules. 2017 Jan 15;22(1):138. doi: 10.3390/molecules22010138.


A case study of Polish Melilotus officinalis honey was presented for the first time. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) (after steam distillation, Soxhlet extraction, ultrasonic solvent extraction, and solid phase extraction (SPE)) and targeted high performance liquid chromatography with a photodiode array detector (HPLC-PAD) were applied to determine the characteristic components of honey. While ubiquitous in most honeys, carbohydrates, terpene derivatives, and phenylacetic acid dominated in the Soxhlet extracts (25.54%) and in the application of SPE (13.04%). In addition, lumichrome (1.85%) was found, and may be considered as a marker of this honey. Due to the presence of these compounds, Polish yellow sweet clover honey is similar to French lavender honeys. The major compounds determined in the methanolic extract were (+)-catechine (39.7%) and gallic acid (up to 30%), which can be regarded as specific chemical markers of the botanical origin of melilot honey. With respect to total phenolic and flavonoid contents, 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) assays were determined spectrophotometrically. The honey exhibited a moderate antioxidant activity, typical for light honeys, which correlates well with its phenolic and flavonoid composition.

Keywords: Melilotus officinalis; honey markers; phenolic; volatile; yellow sweet clover.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry*
  • Catechin / chemistry
  • Catechin / isolation & purification
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / isolation & purification
  • Gallic Acid / chemistry
  • Gallic Acid / isolation & purification
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Honey / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Medicago*
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phenols / isolation & purification


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Gallic Acid
  • Catechin