Essential oil components of Nelumbo nucifera flowers from cultivated and wild lotus samples were analyzed and compared using three different extraction techniques, i.e., headspace extraction (HE), steam distillation (SD) and solvent extraction (SE), coupled with GC-MS. Forty-two peaks in the GC-MS analysis were identified as essential oil components extracted by the three methods from N. nucifera flower. The major essential oil components extracted by SD method were found to be Z,Z-10,12-hexadecadienal and E-14-hexadecenal with relative contents of 16.3% and 16.7%, respectively, which is different from that of SE method, i.e., n-hexadecanoic acid and Z,Z-9,12-octadecadienoic acid accounting for 25.8% and 26.8%, respectively. HE method demonstrated a possibility to be used as an in situ and simplest method for extracting the essential oil components from raw materials. By adding a small amount of glycerinum onto the surface of the air-dried flower sample as a solvent trap in the HE method, the volatility of the essential oil components was found to increase by two times for the first time, which could be further utilized to improve the extraction efficiency and the recovery of the essential oil components from other materials for more applications. In addition, the comparison of essential oil components between cultivated and wild samples showed that they differed only in the chemical contents but not in chemical components. This will be a comprehensive report on the chemical information of the essential oil components of N. nucifera flower and provide guidance for its further exploration as high value-added products in the food and healthcare industries.
Keywords: GC-MS; N. nucifera flower; essential oil; extraction technique.