Ultra-fast liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry for the rapid phenolic profiling of red maple (Acer rubrum) leaves

J Sep Sci. 2018 Jun;41(11):2331-2346. doi: 10.1002/jssc.201800037. Epub 2018 Apr 6.


The red maple (Acer rubrum) species is economically important to North America because of its sap, which is used to produce maple syrup. In addition, various other red maple plant parts, including leaves, were used as a traditional medicine by the Native Americans. Currently, red maple leaves are being used for nutraceutical and cosmetic applications but there are no published analytical methods for comprehensive phytochemical characterization of this material. Herein, a rapid and sensitive method using liquid chromatography with electrospray ionization time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry was developed to characterize the phenolics in a methanol extract of red maple leaves and a proprietary phenolic-enriched red maple leaves extract (Maplifa™). Time-of-flight mass spectrometry and tandem mass spectrometry experiments led to the identification of 106 phenolic compounds in red maples leaves with the vast majority of these compounds also detected in Maplifa™. The compounds included 68 gallotannins, 25 flavonoids, gallic acid, quinic acid, catechin, epicatechin, and nine other gallic acid derivatives among which 11 are potentially new and 75 are being reported from red maple for the first time. The developed method to characterize red maple leaves phenolics is rapid and highly sensitive and could aid in future standardization and quality control of this botanical ingredient.

Keywords: Acer rubrum; maplifa; phenolics; red maple; tandem mass spectrometry.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acer / chemistry*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Phenols / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods*


  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts