Wedelia chinensis (Asteraceae) is a wetland herb native to India, China, and Japan. It is a valuable medicinal plant recorded to have pharmaceutical properties. However, the phytotoxic potential of Wedelia chinensis has not yet been examined. Thus, we carried out this study to establish the allelopathic effects of Wedelia chinensis and to identify its phytotoxic substances. Extracts of Wedelia chinensis exhibited high inhibitory activity against the root and shoot growth of cress, alfalfa, rapeseed, lettuce, foxtail fescue, Italian ryegrass, timothy, and barnyard grass. The inhibition was varied with species and was dependent on concentrations. The extracts were separated through several purification steps, and the two effective substances were isolated and characterized as vanillic acid and gallic acid using spectral analysis. Vanillic acid and gallic acid significantly arrested the growth of cress and Italian ryegrass seedlings. The concentrations of vanillic acid and gallic acid needed for 50% inhibition (I50 values) of the seedling growth of the cress and Italian ryegrass were 0.04-15.4 and 0.45-6.6 mM, respectively. The findings suggest that vanillic acid and gallic acid may be required for the growth inhibitory activities of Wedelia chinensis.
Keywords: Wedelia chinensis; gallic acid; organic farming; phytotoxic substances; vanillic acid.