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Ascorbic acid and Vitamin A content of edible wild plants of Ohio and Kentucky

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  • PAT and Spectroscopy Consultants, LLC

Abstract

Fresh samples of 16 wild edible plants were assayed for Ascorbic Acid and 10 plants were assayed for Vitamin A. Many of the plants were found to be rich sources of these vitamins when compared with some common garden fruits and vegetables.
Ascorbic Acid and Vitamin A Content of
Edible Wild Plants of Ohio and Kentucky
THOMAS M. ZENNIE AND C. DWAYNE OGZEWALLA 1
Fresh samples o[ 16 wild edible plants were assayed/or ,4scorbic ,4cid and 10 plants
were assayed 1or Vitamin .4. Many o[ the plants were [ound to be rich sources of these
vitamins when compared with some common garden lruits and vegetables.
INTRODUCTION
There is a renewed awareness today of
the value of natural resources, and this
realization has led to experimentation with
and
an increased utilization of wild plants
as food sources (3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 17). In
some areas of the United States the utiliza-
tion of such foods is not new. The practice
has
been handed down through generations
and
is undoubtedly a carry-over from the
times when some pioneers and American
Indians subsisted wholely on native foods.
Wild spring greens are often available sev-
eral weeks before garden varieties and are
used extensively by individuals familiar
with them. Dandelion and wild Asparagus
are common foods to some people. Tender
Poke greens and Lambs-quarters are con-
sumed in such quantities by some families
that they are a standard part of the diet--
often being preferred to garden greens.
Non-cultivated fruits such as blackberries,
blueberries and plums are collected in suffi-
cient quantities to be used in preserving for
a winter home supply or for sale on the
market. We utilize edible wild plants on a
regular basis and, in fact, are delighted
when various species are in their prime.
Books on wild edible plants often con-
tain such statements as, "Rose hips are rich
in vitamin C," or "Sassafras leaves are anti-
t Professor of Pharmacognosy, College of Phar-
mac),, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
45221.
Paper presented at the Lloyd Library & Museum
Lecture Series, April 27, 1974, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Submitted for publication
July 5, 1974.
scorbutic," but only a few references have
included quantitative analysis of tested wild
foods of particular vitamins, minerals and/
or other ingredients (1, 6, 12). Some refer-
ences are difficult to locate (11) and some
do not include details of the assay pro-
cedures (3, 6, 17). At best there is a paucity
of information regarding the nutritive val-
ues of wild plants, and it is for the purpose
of extending the knowledge of vitamin con-
tent of commonly consumed wild plants
that the study was undertaken.
PLANTS USED
A selection of wild foods utilized in
southern Ohio and northern Kentucky
were analyzed for their content of the vita-
min A precursor, fl carotene, and ascorbic
acid. The plants were chosen because of
their availability at the time of the experi-
ment and because their vitamin content was
expected to be high. No effort was made to
exhaust all the usable species of the area
and no effort was made to follow the level
of vitamins in the plants through their
growing season, although there are values
reported for several plants collected at dif-
ferent stages of development.
Table I lists the plants assayed with the
following information--common names
used in the southern Ohio and northern
Kentucky area, the part of the plants used,
and the time of year when the plants are
usually collected for food. Specimens of all
plants are on file in the herbarium of the
University of Cincinnati.
76 ECONOMIC BOTANY 31: 76-79. January-March, 1977.
TABLE I
VITAMIN A AND ASCOgBIC ACID VALUES FOR SOME EDIBLE WILD PLANTS
Ascorbic
Vitamin A Acid
Name Part Used Season Collected Units/100 g mg/100 g
Alliarla o.Oicinalis L. (1) Leaves and tops just (1) Spring 8,600 (3) 190
Crueiferae prior to flowing 12,000
(Garlic Mustard) (2) Basal leaves (2) All year 19.000
Allium vineale L. Leaves All year (best in 130
Liliaeeae early spring)
(Onion Grass)
AUium tricoccum Ait. Leaves Spring 80
Liliaeeae
(Ramps or Wild Leeks)
Barbarea vulgaris R. Br. Basal leaves Late winter and 130 (1)
& Barbarea verna Asch. early spring
Cruciferae
(Winter Cress)
Capsella bursa-pastoris Basal leaves of first Late winter and 5,000 91
Medic. Crueiferae year plants early spring
(Shepard's Purse)
Cercis eanadensis L. Flowers Early spring 69
Leguminosae 82
(Redbud, Judas Tree)
Chenopodium albidum L. (1) Whole young plants (1) Early spring 14,000 130
Chenopodiaceae (2) Tops of older plants (2) Later in year 16,000 66 (2)
(Goosefoot, Lambs- 71 (2)
quarters)
Chyrsanthemum Basal Late winter and 7,000 23
Leucanthemum L. early spring 12,000
Compositae
(Ox-eye Daisy)
Duv~znea indica Leaves All year (best in 79
Focke. Rosaceae spring)
(Indian Strawberry)
Glexhoma hederacea L. Leaves All year 14,000 44
Labiatae
(Ground Ivy)
LaxSuva scariola L. Basal leaves Early spring 9.700 41
Compositae 44
(Wild Prickly Lettuce)
Oxalis stricta L. Leaves All year 59 (2)
Oxalidaceae 79 (2)
(Sour Grass)
PhysaUs pubescens L. Ripe fruit only Late fall and early 3,200
Solanaceae winter 2,200
(Ground Cherry)
Plantago major L. Leaves Early spring 10,000 19 (2)
Plantaginaceae 11,000 19
(Plantain)
Portulaca oleracea L. Overground plant Spring and winter 6,100 26 (2)
Portulacaceae prior to flowering 8,300
(Purslane)
Stellaria media Cyrill Overground plant All year (best in 37
Caryophylaceae spring) 49
(Chickweed)
Viola papilionacea Puesh. Basal leaves All year (best in 15,000 130 (2)
Violaceae spring) 20,000 264
(Common Blue Violets)
(1) Plants collected the day before the assay.
(2) Values from old plants that had gone to seed.
(3) Value from plants collected in late winter.
EDIBLE WILD PLANTS 77
METHODS
Collection o] plant material. 2 Parts of the
plant suitable and most desirable for hu-
man consumption were used in all cases. In
general this consisted of young, tender
parts; discolored and insect-damaged por-
tions were discarded. Most of the samples
were collected just prior to or during the
flowering period, because it was expected
that the vitamin content would be at its
highest level at that time (1, 14). Some
plants were not at their prime when the
field trips were made or when the assays
were being done, and for that reason por-
tions were collected from some older plants,
ones that had gone to seed, with this differ-
ence noted in Table I. All plants were col-
lected within a 50-mile radius of Cin-
cinnati and taken directly to the laboratory.
The analysis was done immediately upon
arrival and, with one exception as noted on
Table I, all values reported are for fresh
samples.
Chemical assays, Vitamin C. The method
used for the ascorbic acid determination
was that of the Association of Vitamin
Chemists (2, 15), a 2,6-dichloroendophenol
method that measures only reduced ascor-
bic acid. The dehydroascorbic acid method
of Roe and Oesterling (2) was not used be-
cause the plants usually were analyzed
within ten or fifteen minutes of collection
and, consequently, the amount of dehydro-
ascorbic acid would have been small in
comparison with what it would have been
in older or frozen samples. The dehydro-
ascorbic acid method is open to question
because the biological activity of the vita-
min is impaired once the ascorbic acid is
oxidized to the dehydro form in the plant
leaf (16).
Vitamin A. The method used for the
assay of a vitamin A precursor follows that
of Strohocker and Henning (14) and the
Association of Vitamin Chemists (2). Ex-
tracted carotene was measured against a
highly purified sample of "100% type VI
beta-carotene obtained from carrots" s us-
ing a Spectronic 20 spectrophotometer at
2 The authors are indebted to Warren Wells,
Chief Naturalist, Hamilton County Park Board, for
help in identifying several plants used in this study.
s Sigma Chemicals.
wave length 436 nm. Carotenes from sev-
eral samples were collected and measured
against the purified beta-carotene standard
using a Coleman U.V. spectrophotometer,
Model 124. The scans of the extracted caro-
tenes were qualitatively indistinguishable
from that of the standard, indicating that
beta-carotene was the principal extracted
carotene. Units of vitamin A were calcu-
lated by multiplying the meg/100 g of beta-
carotene by 1.6 (2).
RESULTS
Results of the assays are seen in Table I.
For those plants of which a single collection
was made, a single value is given. This
value represents the average of three as-
sayed portions. For those plants having un-
usually high vitamin contents, additional
collections and assays were performed. Only
the high and low values obtained from the
various different collections are given.
CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSION
The carotene values of ten edible wild
plants were determined. On a weight basis,
six had higher values for carotene than
spinach (16), which is reported to have the
highest vitamin A level of the widely mar-
keted garden vegetables (see Table II). For
the following plants-----dlliaria officinalis,
Capsella bursa-pastoris, Chenopodium albi-
dum, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, Gle-
choma hedaracea, Lactuca scariola, Plan-
tago major, Portulaca oleracea, and Viola
papilionacea--each could provide for at
least a daily dietary allowance (5,000 units)
of vitamin A (5) in a 100 g sample. One
collection of Viola papilionacea contained
TABLE II
VITAMIN A
AND ASCOEBIC ACID VALUES FOR SOME
COMMON GARDEN FRUIT AND VEGETABLES (15)
Vitamin A, Ascorbic Acid
Units/t00
g mg/100 g
Celery 240 9
Iceberg
lettuce 330 6
Leaf lettuce 1,900 18
Green onions 2,000 32
Green peppers 240 128
Spinach 8,100 5 t
Oranges 200 50
Tomatoes 900 23
78 ECONOMIC BOTANY
a daily dietary allowance in a 25 g quantity.
The ascorbic acid values of 16 edible
wild plants were determined. When com-
pared with oranges, on a weight basis, ten
of the wild plants had higher values of
vitamin C: Alliaria o~cinalis, Allium vin-
eale, Allium tricoccum, Barbarea vulgaris,
Capsella bursa-pastoris, Cercis canaden-
sis, Chenopodium albidum, Duchesnea
indica, Oxalis stricta, and Viola papiliona-
cea. Each would provide more than a daily
dietary amount of vitamin C in a 100 g
sample of the food for an average man or
for a woman during pregnancy and lacta-
tion (60 mg) (5). ~
The edible wild plants tested have rela-
tively high carotene or ascorbic acid values
or both and could be useful components of
the diet, particularly for rural families.
Most of the plants are found in abundance
in Ohio and Kentucky, and collection of a
mess for a family sufficient to provide a
daily dietary allowance of the vitamins
would be a relatively easy task. Many of the
plants may be collected in late winter or
early spring when commercial sources of
fresh foods may be scarce or expensive and
a supply of vitamins from purchased foods
may be relatively low. Preferably the plants
should be consumed prior to wilting or
aging so that the palatability and vitamin
content would be high.
4 One sample of Oxalis stricta had a value of 59
rag/100 g, which would be one milligram short of
the recommended daily dietary allowance.
LITERATURE CITED
1. Baird, E. A. and Lane, M. G. 1947. Ca-
nadian Journal of Research, "The seasonal
variation in the ascorbic acid content of
edible wild plants commonly found in New
Brunswick."
2. Association of Vitamin Chemists. 1951.
Method o[ Vitamin Assay, Interscience Pub-
lishers, N.Y.
3. Angler, B. 1966. Free for The Eating. Stack-
pole Books, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
4. Fernald, M. L. and Kinsey, A. C. 1958.
Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North Amer-
ica, Harper and Bros., N.Y.
5. Food and Nutrition Board. 1969. Reoom-
mended Dietary Allowances, 7th Edition.,
Publication 1694, National Academy of
Sciences, Washington, D.C.
6. Gibbons, E. 1962. Stalking The Wild As-
paragus, David McKay Co., N.Y.
7. Gibbons, E. 1966. Stalking The HealthJul
Herbs, David McKay Co., N.Y.
8. Gibbons, E. 1972. Stalking Wild Foods on
A Desert lsle, National Geographic, July,
142: 46-63.
9. Gibbons, E. 1973. Stalking The West's Wild
Foods, National Geographic, August, 144:
186-199.
10. Harrington, H. D. 1967. Edible Native
Plants of The Rocky Mountains. University
of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, N.M.
11. Hedrick, U. P. 1919. Sturtevant's Notes on
Edible Plants, New York Agricultural Ex-
periment Station Geneva, N.Y.
12. Lantz, E. M. and Smith, M. 1944. The
Carotene and Ascorbic Acid Values of Some
Wild Plants Used for Food in New Mexico,
New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Sta-
tion, Bulletin 989.
13. Morton, J. F. 1963. Principal Wild Food
Plants of The United States. Economic
Botany, 47: 319-330.
14. Nelson, A. 1951. Medical Botany, Living-
stone, Edinburgh, Scotland.
15. Stroker, R. and Henning. 1965. Vitamin
Assay, Verlag Chemie, Weinheim, Bergstr.
16. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 1964. Agri-
culture Handbook #8, Composition of
Foods, Government Printing Office, Wash-
ington, D.C.
17. Weiner, M. A. 1972. Earth Medicine and
Earth Food, The Macmillian Company,
N.Y.
EDIBLE WILD PLANTS 79
... Moreover, Korean used to eat the root of this plant and used it as medicine for the treatment of hypertension and edema [10]. The fresh roots and leaves are taken as raw or as a cooked vegetable, [11,12] . Diuretic, hypotensive, stimulant, antiscorbutic, astringent, vasodilator and vulnerary activities have been reported by the tea prepared from various parts or in various forms from C. bursa-pastoris while dried herb tea of this plant is used for controlling haemorrhages in stomach, lungs, uterus and mostly for kidneys. ...
... Also, the values for pH, Na, Mg, Ca, S, Zn, and Pb were evaluated [63]. Vitamin Minerals, linoleic acid, ascorbic acid, proteins and omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids isolated from C. bursa-pastoris showed nutritional composition and these are considered to be beneficial to human health [11,62]. In another study, 45 compounds were isolated and identified, accounting for 71.53% of total essential oil and the main components of the essential oil were identified as palmitic (28.32%), phytane (10.15%), oleic acid (8.63%) and octacosane (4.73%) [64]. ...
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... Also the values for pH, Na, Mg, Ca, S, Zn, and Pb were evaluated (Tables 14.10 and 14.11) (Tuncturk et al. 2015). The nutritional composition of C. bursa-pastoris constitute minerals, vitamin A, ascorbic acid, proteins, linoleic acid, and omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids, and provide some beneficial effects to the human health (Guil-Guerrero et al. 1999;Zennie and Ogzewalla 1977). ...
... The whole plant was used for the treatment of swelling caused due to some disorder in kidneys, painful urination, boils and piles, heavy menstruation in women, presence of chyle in urine, and in treating hypertension also. Koreans eat the root of C. bursa pastoris and also use it as medication for treating hypertension and edema (Song et al. 2007); its roots and leaves are utilized as raw or cooked herbs, while its growing roots and leaves are consumed and in some countries it is eaten raw or cooked (Zennie and Ogzewalla 1977;Kweon et al. 1996). The tea prepared from C. bursa-pastoris was used for different activities depending upon the part or form of the plant used. ...
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Weiner, M. A. 1972. Earth Medicine and Earth Food, The Macmillian Company, N.Y.
Reoom-mended Dietary Allowances, 7th Edition., Publication 1694
  • Food
  • Nutrition
Food and Nutrition Board. 1969. Reoom-mended Dietary Allowances, 7th Edition., Publication 1694, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
Stalking The West’s Wild Foods
  • E Gibbons
  • E. Gibbons
Gibbons, E. 1973. Stalking The West's Wild Foods, National Geographic, August, 144: 186-199.
Agriculture Handbook #8,Composition of Foods, Government Printing Office
  • U S Department
  • Agriculture