The effects of field preservation on alkaloid content of fresh coca leaves (Erythroxylum spp.)

J Ethnopharmacol. 1982 Nov;6(3):287-91. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(82)90051-4.


In order to test the effects of commonly used preservation agents on the alkaloid content of herbarium specimens, fresh leaves of Erythroxylum coca, E. novogranantense, and E. novogranatense var. truxillense were air-or heat-dried or treated with six different liquid preservatives. The leaves were then extracted and analyzed quantitatively for cocaine content. Leaves which were soaked in preservatives showed appreciable pre-extraction of cocaine and probably of other alkaloids. The results compare well with a similar experiment conducted on flavonoid content of the leaves of a palm Jessenia bataua. If portions of herbarium specimens are to be useful for phytochemical screening using microtechniques, at least part of the collection must be air- or heat-dried to retain the chemical constituents.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / analysis*
  • Coca / analysis*
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Specimen Handling / methods


  • Alkaloids
  • Plant Extracts