Next Article in Journal
Antiviral Activities of Oleanolic Acid and Its Analogues
Next Article in Special Issue
Comparison of Single and Combined Use of Catechin, Protocatechuic, and Vanillic Acids as Antioxidant and Antibacterial Agents against Uropathogenic Escherichia Coli at Planktonic and Biofilm Levels
Previous Article in Journal
The Effects of Berberine on the Gut Microbiota in Apc min/+ Mice Fed with a High Fat Diet
Previous Article in Special Issue
In Vitro Ecological Response of the Human Gut Microbiome to Bioactive Extracts from Edible Wild Mushrooms
Order Article Reprints
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants: Weeds or “New Functional Crops”?

Department of Agriculture, Food & Environment, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto, 80-56124 Pisa, Italy
Interdepartmental Research Center Nutrafood-Nutraceuticals and Food for Health, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto, 80-56124 Pisa, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Molecules 2018, 23(9), 2299;
Received: 30 July 2018 / Revised: 3 September 2018 / Accepted: 5 September 2018 / Published: 8 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioactive Plant Compounds for Sustainable Health)


The Mediterranean basin is a biodiversity hotspot of wild edible species, and their therapeutic and culinary uses have long been documented. Owing to the growing demand for wild edible species, there are increasing concerns about the safety, standardization, quality, and availability of products derived from these species collected in the wild. An efficient cultivation method for the species having promising nutraceutical values is highly desirable. In this backdrop, a hydroponic system could be considered as a reproducible and efficient agronomic practice to maximize yield, and also to selectively stimulate the biosynthesis of targeted metabolites. The aim of this report is to review the phytochemical and toxic compounds of some potentially interesting Mediterranean wild edible species. Herein, after a deep analysis of the literature, information on the main bioactive compounds, and some possibly toxic molecules, from fifteen wild edible species have been compiled. The traditional recipes prepared with these species are also listed. In addition, preliminary data about the performance of some selected species are also reported. In particular, germination tests performed on six selected species revealed that there are differences among the species, but not with crop species. “Domestication” of wild species seems a promising approach for exploiting these “new functional foods”.

Graphical Abstract

1. Introduction

Since ancient times, wild plants have widely been used in traditional Mediterranean culture, and the link between wild plants and human life is a prominent feature. Wild plants are known to be used in ancient cultures for different purposes, such as food, medicines, production of goods (for example clothes), and magic and religious rituals. In particular, the use of wild edible plants in Europe has been mainly linked to periods of famine, therefore these herbs are called “famine food” [1]. Through the years, the use of these plants in traditional recipes of the Mediterranean diet has continuously increased, and in parallel, people have discovered their medicinal properties [2]. Today, the renewed interest in wild edible plants, and knowledge of the healthy role of phytochemical compounds, makes it possible to define them as “new functional foods”. On the other hand, strong concern about safety, yield, and the phytochemical profiles of these species, makes it crucially important to establish a large-scale methodology of cultivation of the most promising species, in terms of both nutraceutical value and profitability. The hydroponic system represents a reproducible and efficient agronomic practice to maximize not only yield, but also to selectively stimulate the biosynthesis of targeted metabolites [3,4]. Another important aspect worth further analysis is the high variability in the percentage and mean germination time of wild edible species [5,6].

2. Wild Edible Plants in the Mediterranean Basin

The Mediterranean basin is characterized by a massive abundance of wild edible species. Of the selected fifteen wild species appearing to be the most promising for cultivation, the most representative compounds are detailed in Table 1. A plethora of bioactive compounds with medicinal and nutraceutical properties have been isolated from these species. Of them, silenan SV from Sinapis arvensis L. with immunomodulatory activity [7], and alliin in Allium ampeloprasum L. with powerful antioxidant activity [1], are well-known examples. Wild species are constitutively rich in secondary metabolites with antioxidant and healthy properties, and for these reasons could be represented as a new source of functional food. On the other hand, many of these properties were already known, even though not scientifically proven.
There is a difference between developing and industrialized countries in their habits of consumption of wild species. In developing nations, many edible wild plants are used as a source of food because the domesticated crop yield is not sufficient, whereas in most industrialized countries food supply is not a problem, thus wild plants are used to diversify a monotonous diet. Today, the concept of food in developed countries is profoundly modified. Indeed, consumers are no longer interested only in the supply of basic nutrients, they also demand the contribution of nutraceutical compounds.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in traditional dishes with wild edible species cooked in different ways, such as soups, pies, mixtures, boiled vegetables, and ravioli. According to popular tradition, some culinary uses of the species are reported in Table 2.

3. Toxicity of Wild Edible Plants

A high accumulation of nitrites, oxalate, and some other specific toxic compounds, is frequent in some edible species when collected in the wild, so a moderate use is suggested. For example, nitrites bind to hamoglobin and reduce the transport of oxygen to tissues [43]. Furthermore, the capacity of nitrites to combine with amines produces nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic substances [43]. Oxalic acid can reduce the availability of calcium through the formation of an insoluble complex of calcium oxalate, known as raphide, which is the primary cause of the most common kind of kidney stones [74]. Thus, the development of species-specific cultivation protocols can be useful to limit the accumulation of possible toxic compounds in the species that are well appreciated by consumers.
B. officinalis, one of the most commonly eaten wild plants, should be consumed with precaution as it contains considerable amounts of hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine-based alkaloids, such as thesinine, lycopsamine, and intermedine, which are mildly mutagenic. Acute poisoning by pyrrolizidine alkaloids causes haemorrhagic necrosis, hepatomegaly, and ascites. The subacute toxicity is characterized by occlusion of the hepatic veins and subsequent necrosis, fibrosis, and liver cirrhosis [74]. Another wild species, F. vulgare, contains two toxic phenylpropanoids: estragole with hepatocarcinogenic activity; and trans-anethole, having genotoxic and hepatocarcinogenic properties [75].
The concentration of oxalate, nitrates, and other toxic compounds found in the selected wild edible species is given in Table 3.

4. Exploiting the Possibilities of Cultivation of Some Wild Mediterranean Edible Species: Preliminary Results, Perspectives and Opportunities

The Food and Agriculture Organization defines wild edible plants as: “Plants that grow spontaneously in self-maintaining populations in natural or semi-natural ecosystems and can exist independently of direct human action” [80]. However, the gap between the increasing human population and food availability is constantly enlarging, which requires protecting some plant species from imprudent harvesting. In addition, considering food safety, the phytochemical properties of food are a hot topic, especially in Western countries [80]. Therefore, it seems important to find an efficient cultivation method for wild species (though this contrasts with the definition of “wild species”) to allow a large-scale, high-yield production with a reproducible phytochemical profile, and in parallel, reduce the risks related to the presence of toxic compounds. Below we report some preliminary results from germination tests of some wild species (Table 4); and the biomass yield of R. acetosa and S. minor (Table 5), the two species that have demonstrated good potential for cultivation in a hydroponic system, an agronomic technique that ensures high yield and standardization in phytochemical profiles.

4.1. Germination Test

Usually, wild species collected in the wild are characterized by a reduced germination rate when compared to species that are commonly cultivated. In Table 4 we report the germination test of some potentially-interesting wild Mediterranean edible species, namely P. oleracea, R. acetosa, S. vulgaris, S. minor, T. officinale, and U. dioica. The germination rate was evaluated in Petri dishes in both dark and light (about 250–300 µmol quanta m−2 s−1) conditions at 27 °C and saturated relative humidity (25 seeds per Petri dishes; n = 3). The germination rate was calculated as the percentage of seeds germinated after ten days (Table 4). Within ten days, mean germination time was calculated as the mean of the days necessary to obtain the maximum germination (Table 4). The germination rate was found to be highly variable under different conditions, for example, under light conditions germination was very low in U. dioica, medium in T. officinale and P. oleracea, and very high in S. vulgaris, R. acetosa, and S. minor (the latter was similar to that of commercial seeds of Eruca sativa (L.) Mill.). We did not observe differences between the germination rate under dark or light conditions (p > 0.05), except for P. oleracea and T. officinale, for which the rate was significantly reduced in dark conditions (Student’s t test; p < 0.01). The mean germination time in light conditions was the lowest in P. oleracea, followed by R. acetosa, S. minor, and T. officinale, whilst U. dioica showed the highest. No remarkable differences were found among the species when the mean germination time of seeds grown under light was compared to that observed in dark conditions (p > 0.05).

4.2. The Cultivation

In addition to the low germination rate observed for some wild species, another critical point to overcome for the first stages of “domestication” of wild species is the establishment of a proper cultivation method. In many cases, wild species typically inhabit limiting environments, and are often slow-growing with very low biomass yield. The selection of the most promising genotypes can overcome this problem if implemented in association with the best cultivation practice that maximizes the biomass yield. Therefore, we utilized the hydroponic cultivation system (the floating system, Figure 1) given that it delivers better plant yields than soil culture, with less water usage and higher fertilizer efficiency. Some other authors [3] have indeed utilized the hydroponic system for the cultivation of wild medicinal plants, not only to maximize the plant yield, but even to selectively stimulate the biosynthesis of targeted metabolites, and/or to standardize the biochemical profile of these species [82]. Another important aspect that can be overcome with the utilization of a hydroponic system is the reduction of toxic compounds [83].
Taking into consideration the highest percentage of germination of R. acetosa and S. minor, these species were tested for their potential of cultivation in a floating system. Therefore, a pilot experiment was conducted in which these two species were grown under greenhouse conditions with natural light during the period April–June 2017 in the facilities of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy). The plants were hydroponically grown in a nutrient solution having the following composition: NO3 10 mM, NH4+ 0.5 mM, PO43− 1 mM, K+ 6 mM, Ca2+ 4 mM, Mg2+ 2 mM, Na+ 0.5 mM, SO42− 3.5 mM, Fe2+ 40 µM, BO3 25 µM, Cu2+ 1 µM, Zn2+ 5 µM, Mn2+ 10 µM, Mo3+ 1 µM. Electrical conductivity was 1.98 dS m−1 and pH values were adjusted to 5.7–6 with diluted sulphuric acid. The solution was kept continuously aerated, and replaced every week with a fresh one.
Preliminary results concerning the cultivation of R. acetosa and S. minor in the floating system showed a lower yield than that of some commercial species (Table 5). However, with an appropriate manipulation of the nutrient solution, growing condition, and genotype selection, the challenge to increase the biomass yield of these species can realistically be addressed. However, in this study only very preliminary results are given, and to make a complete picture of the performance of these two species further investigations are needed. In addition, similar experiments need to be carried out with other wild edible species interesting as a source of healthy bioactive compounds, and the organoleptic characteristics of these species also need to be evaluated, as they are an important aspect for consumers.

4.3. Perspective and Opportunities for Wild Edible Species Cultivation

Ethnobotanical surveys show that more than 7000 species of wild plants have been used for human food at some point throughout human history, and that edible species are a regular component of the diets of millions of people [86]. Recent studies also pointed out that many people worldwide still rely on local environmental resources, especially wild plants, for daily subsistence and healthcare [87,88,89,90]. In different regions lacking basic infrastructure and market access, wild gathering provides considerable subsistence support to local diets [91], and may also generate further benefits (e.g., selling surpluses) [92]. However, in some cases gathering from the wild, and family farming and/or smallholder agriculture, are not enough to meet nutritional needs in developing regions [93], as was expressed in a report on the state of food insecurity in the world [94], which states, “progress towards food security and nutrition targets requires that food is available, accessible and of sufficient quantity and quality to ensure good nutritional outcomes”. Furthermore, in the near future, increasing human population, and continued globalization of trade and markets, along with ethnobotanical exploration, is expected to continue to increase awareness in the use of new plant materials. Therefore, the increase in demand for wild edible species will likely continue to threaten native species in some areas worldwide, as price differentials between wild and cultivated plants currently encourage unsustainable collection practices in some localities, especially in economically depressed regions that lack well-established rules for protecting wild plants [95].
Combining traditional knowledge and expertise with more recent concepts (e.g., public policies addressed to increasing human rights to food, health, and welfare, in addition to supporting plant biodiversity) is necessary for the benefit of future generations. The possibility to cultivate these wild edible species seems a promising approach to improve wild species yields and availability in a sustainable way, while protecting natural and crop biodiversity, as well as avoiding harmful anthropogenic contaminations of food, or the harvest of toxic species by inexperienced people. Research on the cultivation of wild species is in its infancy, and as also reported above, results indicate these species are still not competitive with more commercial species. However, there are significant possibilities to increase the yield of wild edible species has happened in the past for major crops, and this would encompass: (i) Selection of suitable species for their attitude to cultivation, (ii) breeding programs to selectively promote plant yield, and (iii) establishment of cultivation protocols to maximize plant performance. Of course, all these aspects should be considered in the context of local uses and economic possibilities; obviously the hydroponic technique represents just one of the possible cultivation techniques principally “affordable” in industrialized countries, whereas in other developing areas, other cultivation techniques have to be applied. In any case, cultivation will represent a step forward to: (i) Reduce the pressure of gathering in the wild, (ii) reduce the risk of food contamination, and (iii) diversify human diet and promote access to bioactive food. In this perspective, new ideas about food and health are welcome to respond to demand offood supply, quality, and safety.

5. Conclusions

Wild edible plants are widely present in the Mediterranean basin, and ethnobotany reports their cooking and medicinal use over a long time. Today, more than one billion people in the world utilize wild vegetables in their daily diet, especially in developing countries. Conversely, people of industrialized countries are “rediscovering” wild edible species for culinary use, as these wild vegetables add a variety of color, taste, and texture in their diet. It seems necessary to develop an efficient large-scale cultivation method for these species in order to standardize their yield and nutraceutical values. Nevertheless, in most cases, wild species can be toxic due to the high content of oxalic acid, nitrates, and sometimes, other toxic compounds [74]. Consequently, excessive consumption can cause some problems to human health, especially in infants [14]. Therefore, cultivation techniques can also be beneficial in controlling and limiting the accumulation of nitrates and oxalic acid. It is conceivable that with appropriate research addressed to improving these features, and with proper promotional marketing, these wild edible species may open up new commercial opportunities in the countries of the Mediterranean area. The nutritional and nutraceutical properties of these wild species make them especially charming considering the increasing attention amongst people towards the connection between food and health. In other words, some of these “neglected” species, sometimes considered as weeds in extensive major crop cultivation, may potentially become “new functional crops” in the not so distant future.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, C.C., L.G., M.L. and A.P.; methodology, C.C., L.G. and M.L.; formal analysis, S.B. and C.C.; investigation, C.C.; data curation, S.B., C.C. and M.L.; writing-review and editing, S.B., C.C., L.G., M.L. and A.P.; supervision, L.G. and A.P.; funding acquisition, L.G. and A.P.


The work was co-founded by the ERBAVOLANT project (Rural Development policy 2014–2020-Measure 16.1: Support to the Operational Groups of agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI)).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


  1. Petropoulos, S.A.; Karkanis, A.; Martins, N.; Ferreira, I.C.F.R. Edible halophytes of the Mediterranean basin: Potential candidates for novel food products. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2018, 74, 69–84. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  2. Morales, P.; Ferreira, I.C.; Carvalho, A.M.; Sánchez-Mata, C.; Cámara, M.; Fernández-Ruiz, V.; Pardo-de-Santayana, M.; Tardío, J. Mediterranean non-cultivated vegetables as dietary sources of compounds with antioxidant and biological activity. Food Sci. Technol. 2014, 55, 389–396. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
  3. Maggini, R.; Kiferle, C.; Guidi, L.; Pardossi, A.; Raffaelli, A. Growing medicinal plants in hydroponic culture. Acta Hortic. 2012, 952, 697–704. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Tomasi, N.; Pinton, R.; Dalla Costa, L.; Cortella, G.; Terzano, R.; Mimmo, T.; Scampicchio, M.; Cesco, S. New ‘solutions’ for floating cultivation system of ready-to-eat salad: A review. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2015, 46, 267–276. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Dürr, C.; Dickie, J.B.; Yang, X.-Y.; Pritchard, H.W. Ranges of critical temperature and water potential values for the germination of species worldwide: Contribution to a seed trait database. Agric. Forest Meteorol. 2015, 200, 222–232. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
  6. Mira, S.; Veiga-Barbosa, L.; González-Benito, M.E.; Pérez-García, F. Inter-population variation in germination characteristics of Plantago lanceolate seeds: effects of temperature, osmotic stress and salinity. Mediterr. Bot. 2018, 39, 89–96. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  7. Egea-Gilabert, C.; Niñirola, D.; Conesa, E.; Candela, M.E.; Fernandez, J.A. Agronomical use as baby leaf salad of Silene vulgaris based on morphological, biochemical and molecular traits. Sci. Hortic. 2013, 152, 35–43. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Morita, T.; Ushiroguchi, T.; Hayashi, N.; Matsuura, H.; Itakura, Y.; Fuwa, T. Steroidal saponins from elephant garlic, bulbs of Allium ampeloprasum L. Chem. Pharm. Bull. 1988, 36, 3480–3486. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. Wichtl, M. Testo Atlante di Fitoterapia; Utet: Turin, Italy, 2006; ISBN 8802073155. [Google Scholar]
  10. Kim, S.; Kim, D.-B.; Jin, W.; Park, J.; Yoon, W.; Lee, Y.; Kim, S.; Lee, S.; Kim, S.; Lee, O.-H.; et al. Comparative studies of bioactive organosulphur compounds and antioxidant activities in garlic (Allium sativum L.), elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum L.) and onion (Allium cepa L.). Nat. Prod. Res. 2018, 32, 1193–1197. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  11. Rahimi-Madiseh, M.; Heidarian, E.; Kheiri, S.; Rafieian-Kopaei, M. Effect of hydroalcoholic Allium ampeloprasum extract on oxidative stress, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidemia in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Biomed. Pharmacother. 2017, 86, 363–367. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  12. Najda, A.; Błaszczyk, L.; Winiarczyk, K.; Dyduch, J.; Tchórzewska, D. Comparative studies of nutritional and health-enhancing properties in the "garlic-like" plant Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum (GHG-L.) and A. sativum. Sci. Hortic. 2016, 201, 247–255. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  13. Ferrara, L.; Dosi, R.; Di Maro, A.; Guida, V.; Cefarelli, G.; Pacifico, S.; Mastellone, C.; Fiorentino, A.; Rosati, A.; Parente, A. Nutritional values, metabolic profile and radical scavenging capacities of wild asparagus (A. acutifolius L.). J. Food Compost. Anal. 2011, 24, 326–333. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  14. Tardío, J.; De Cortes Sánchez-Mata, M.; Morales, R.; Molina, M.; García-Herrera, P.; Fernández-Ruiz, V.; Cámara, M.; Pardo-De-Santayana, M.; Matallana-González, M.C.; Ruiz-Rodríguez, B.M.; et al. Ethnobotanical and food composition monographs of selected Mediterranean wild edible plants. In Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants: Ethnobotany and Food Composition Tables; de Cortes Sánchez-Mata, M., Tardío, J., Eds.; Springer: New York, NY, USA, 2016; pp. 273–470. ISBN 978-1-4939-3327-3. [Google Scholar]
  15. García-Herrera, P.; Sánchez-Mata, M.C.; Cámara, M.; Tardío, J.; Olmedilla-Alonso, B. Carotenoid content of wild edible young shoots traditionally consumed in Spain (Asparagus acutifolius L., Humulus lupulus L., Bryonia dioica Jacq. and Tamus communis L.). J. Sci. Food. Agric. 2013, 93, 1692–1698. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Guarrera, P.M.; Savo, V. Perceived health properties of wild and cultivated food plants in local and popular traditions of Italy: A review. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2013, 146, 659–680. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  17. Gupta, M.; Singh, S. Borago officinalis L. An important medicinal plant of Mediterranean region: A review. Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res. 2010, 5, 27–34. [Google Scholar]
  18. Pereira, C.; Barros, L.; Carvalho, A.M.; Ferreira, I. Use of UFLC-PDA for the analysis of organic acids in thirty-five species of food and medicinal plants. Food Anal. Method 2013, 6, 1337–1344. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  19. Dresler, S.; Szymczak, G.; Wójcik, M. Comparison of some secondary metabolite content in the seventeen species of the Boraginaceae family. Pharm. Biol. 2017, 55, 691–695. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed][Green Version]
  20. Mohajer, S.; Taha, R.M.; Ramli, R.B.; Mohajer, M. Phytochemical constituents and radical scavenging properties of Borago officinalis and Malva sylvestris. Ind. Crops Prod. 2016, 94, 673–681. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Sinkovič, L.; Demšar, L.; Žnidarčič, D.; Vidrih, R.; Hribar, J.; Treutter, D. Phenolic profiles in leaves of chicory cultivars (Cichorium intybus L.) as influenced by organic and mineral fertilizers. Food Chem. 2015, 166, 507–513. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  22. Zlatíc, N.M.; Stankovíc, M.S. Variability of secondary metabolites of the species Cichorium intybus L. from different habitats. Plants 2017, 6, 38. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  23. Bischoff, T.A.; Kelley, C.J.; Karchesy, Y.; Laurantos, M.; Nguyen-Dinh, P.; Arefi, A.G. Antimalarial activity of Lactucin and Lactucopicrin: sesquiterpene lactones isolated from Cichorium intybus L. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2004, 95, 455–457. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  24. Esiyok, D.; Ötles, S.; Akcicek, E. Herbs as a food source in Turkey. Asian Pac. J. Cancer Prev. 2004, 5, 334–339. [Google Scholar] [PubMed]
  25. Bennett, N.R.; Rosa, A.S.E.; Mellon, F.A.; Kroon, P.A. Ontogenic profiling of glucosinolates, phenolics, flavonoids and other secondary metabolites in Eruca sativa (salad rocket), Diplotaxis erucoides (wall rocket), Diplotaxis tenuifolia (wild rocket), and Bunias orientalis (turkish rocket). J. Agric. Food Chem. 2006, 54, 4005–4015. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  26. Heimler, D.; Isolani, L.; Vignolini, P.; Tombelli, S.; Romani, A. Polyphenol content and antioxidative activity in some species of freshly consumed salads. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2007, 55, 1724–1729. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  27. Di Gioia, F.; Avato, P.; Serio, F.; Argentieri, M.P. Glucosinolate profile of Eruca sativa, Diplotaxis tenuifolia and Diplotaxis erucoides grown in soil and soilless systems. J. Food Compost. Anal. 2018, 69, 197–204. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  28. Pasini, F.; Verardo, V.; Caboni, M.F.; D’Antuono, L.F. Determination of glucosinolates and phenolic compounds in rocket salad by HPLC-DAD–MS: Evaluation of Eruca sativa Mill. and Diplotaxis tenuifolia L. genetic resources. Food Chem. 2012, 133, 1025–1033. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  29. Barros, L.; Carvalho, A.M.; Ferreira, I.C. The nutritional composition of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Shoots, leaves, stems and inflorescences. LWT-Food Sci. Technol. 2010, 43, 814–818. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  30. Ghanem, M.T.M.; Radwan, H.M.A.; Mahdy, E.M.; Elkholy, Y.M.; Hassanein, H.D.; Shahat, A.A. Phenolic compounds from Foeniculum vulgare (subsp. Piperitum) (Apiaceae) herb and evaluation of hepatoprotective antioxidant activity. Pharmacogn. Res. 2012, 4, 104–108. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  31. Grae, I. Nature’s Color. Dyes from Plants; MacMillan Pub Co.: New York, NY, USA, 1974; ISBN 0020123906. [Google Scholar]
  32. Parejo, I.; Jáuregui, O.; Sánchez-Rabaneda, F.; Viladomat, F.; Bastida, J.; Codina, C. Separation and characterization of phenolic compounds in fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) using liquid chromatography-negative electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2004, 52, 3679–3687. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  33. Rasul, A.; Akhtar, N.; Iqbal, M.T.; Khan, B.A.; Madni, A.U.; Murtaza, G.; Waqas, M.K.; Mahmood, T. Sebumetric and mexametric evaluation of a fennel based cream. Scienceasia 2002, 38, 262–267. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  34. Roby, M.H.H.; Sarhan, M.A.; Selim, K.A.; Khalel, K.I. Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of essential oil and extracts of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.) and chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.). Ind. Crops Prod. 2013, 44, 437–445. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  35. Conforti, F.; Sosa, S.; Marrelli, M.; Menichini, F.; Statti, G.A.; Uzunov, D.; Tubaro, A.; Menichini, F. The protective ability of Mediterranean dietary plants against the oxidative damage: The role of radical oxygen species in inflammation and the polyphenol, flavonoid and sterol contents. Food Chem. 2009, 112, 587–594. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  36. Dif, M.M.; Benchiha, H.; Mehdadi, Z.; Benali-Toumi, F.; Benyahia, M.; Bouterfas, K. Quantification study of polyphenols in different organs of Papaver rhoeas L. Phytother 2015, 13, 314–319. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  37. Xiang, L.; Xing, D.; Wang, W.; Wang, R.; Ding, Y. Alkaloids from Portulaca oleracea L. Phytochemistry 2005, 66, 2595–2601. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  38. Guil-Guerrero, J.L.; Rodrìguez-Garcìa, I. Lipids classes, fatty acids and carotenes of the leaves of six edible wild plants. Eur. Food Res. Technol. 1999, 209, 313–316. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  39. Okafor, I.A.; Ezejindu, D.N. Phytochemical studies on Portulaca oleracea (Purslane) plant. G.J.B.A.H.S. 2014, 3, 132–136. [Google Scholar]
  40. Oliveira, I.; Valentão, P.; Lopes, R.; Andrade, P.B.; Bento, A.; Pereira, J.A. Phytochemical characterization and radical scavenging activity of Portulaca oleracea L. leaves and stems. Microchem. J. 2009, 92, 129–134. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  41. Yan, J.; Sun, L.R.; Zhou, Z.Y.; Chen, Y.C.; Zhang, W.M.; Dai, H.F.; Tan, J.W. Homoisoflavonoids from the medicinal plant Portulaca oleracea. Phytochemistry 2012, 80, 37–41. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  42. Mohamed, A.I.; Hussein, A.S. Chemical composition of purslane (Portulaca oleracea). Plant Foods Hum. Nutr. 1992, 45, 1–9. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  43. Guil, J.L.; Rodríguez-Garcí, I.; Torija, E. Nutritional and toxic factors in selected wild edible plants. Plant Foods Hum. Nutr. 1997, 51, 99–107. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  44. Iranshahy, M.; Javadi, B.; Iranshahi, M.; Jahanbakhsh, S.P.; Mahyari, S.; Hassani, F.V.; Karimi, G. A review of traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Portulaca oleracea L. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2017, 205, 158–172. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  45. Lee, N.J.; Choi, J.H.; Koo, B.S.; Ryu, S.Y.; Han, Y.H.; Lee, S.I.; Lee, D.U. Anti- mutagenicity and cytotoxicity of the constituents from the aerial parts of Rumex acetosa. Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2005, 28, 2158–2161. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  46. Bicker, J.; Petereit, F.; Hensel, A. Proanthocyanidins and a phloroglucinol derivative from Rumex acetosa L. Fitoterapia 2009, 80, 483–495. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  47. Aritomi, M.; Kiyota, I.; Mazaki, T. Flavonoid constituents in leaves of Rumex acetosa Linnaeus and R. Japonicus Houttuyn. Chem. Pharm. Bull. 1965, 13, 1470–1471. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  48. Kucekova, Z.; Mlcek, J.; Humpolicek, P.; Rop, O.; Valasek, P.; Saha, P. Phenolic compounds from Allium schoenoprasum, Tragopogon pratensis and Rumex acetosa and their antiproliferative effects. Molecules 2011, 16, 9207–9217. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  49. Esmaeili, A.; Masoudi, S.; Masnabadi, N.; Rustaiyan, A.H. Chemical constituents of the essential oil of Sanguisorba minor Scop. Leaves from Iran. J. Med. Plants 2010, 9, 67–70. [Google Scholar]
  50. Ranfa, A.; Bodesmo, M.; Cappelli, C.; Quaglia, M.; Falistocco, E.; Burini, G.; Coli, R.; Maurizi, A. Aspetti fitoecologici e nutrizionali di alcune specie vegetali spontanee in Umbria per la conoscenza, recupero e valorizzazione di risorse ambientali; Tipografia Grifo: Perugia, Italy, 2011; ISBN 8887652228, 9788887652222. [Google Scholar]
  51. Viano, J.; Masotti, V.; Gaydou, E.M. Nutritional value of Mediterranean sheep’s burnet (Sanguisorba minor ssp. muricata). J. Agr. Food. Chem. 1999, 47, 4645–4648. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  52. Guarrera, P.M.; Savo, V. Wild food plants used in traditional vegetables mixtures in Italy. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2016, 185, 202–234. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  53. Gatto, M.A.; Ippolito, A.; Linsalata, V.; Cascarano, N.A.; Nigro, F.; Vanadia, S.; Di Venere, D. Activity of extracts from wild edible herbs against postharvest fungal diseases of fruit and vegetables. Postharvest Biol. Technol. 2011, 61, 72–82. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  54. Zengin, G.; Mahomoodally, M.F.; Aktumsek, A.; Ceylan, R.; Uysal, S.; Mocan, A.; Yilmaz, M.A.; Picot-Allain, C.M.N.; Ćirić, A.; Glamočlija, J.; et al. Functional constituents of six wild edible Silene species: A focus on their phytochemicals profiles and bioactive properties. Food Biosci. 2018, 23, 75–82. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  55. Rad, J.S.; betatemi, M.H.; Rad, M.S.; Sen, D.J. Phytochemical and antimicrobial evaluation of the essential oils and antioxidant activity of aqueous extracts from flower and stem of Sinapis arvensis L. Am. J. Adv. Drug Deliv. 2013, 1, 1–10. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  56. Mojab, F.; Kamalinejad, M.; Ghaderi, N.; Vahidipour, H.R. Phytochemical screening of some species of Iranian plants. Iran J. Pharm. Res. 2003, 2, 77–82. [Google Scholar]
  57. Amin Mir, M.; Sawhney, S.S.; Jassal, M.M.S. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of phytochemicals of Taraxacum officinale. J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 2012, 2, 1–5. [Google Scholar]
  58. Gomez, M.K.; Singh, J.; Acharya, P.; Jayaprakasha, G.K.; Patil, B.S. Identification and quantification of phytochemicals, antioxidant activity, and bile acid-binding capacity of garnet stem dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). J. Food Sci. 2018, 83, 1569–1578. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  59. Ivanov, I.G. Polyphenols content and antioxidant activities of Taraxacum officinale F.H. Wigg (Dandelion) leaves. Int. J. Pharmacogn. Phytochem. Res. 2014, 6, 889–893. [Google Scholar]
  60. Sengul, M.; Yildiz, H.; Gungor, N.; Cetin, B.; Eser, Z.; Ercisli, S. Total phenolic content, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of some medicinal plants. Pak. J. Pharm. Sci. 2009, 22, 102–106. [Google Scholar] [PubMed]
  61. Schütz, K.; Carle, R.; Schieber, A. Taraxacum-A review on its phytochemical and pharmacological profile. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006, 107, 313–323. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  62. Duma, M.; Alsina, I.; Zeipina, S.; Lepse, L.; Dubova, L. Leaf vegetables as source of phytochemicals. In Proceedings of the 9th Baltic Conference on Food Science and Technology “Food for Consumer Well-being” FOODBALT, Jelgava, Latvia, 8–9 May 2014; pp. 262–265. [Google Scholar]
  63. Guerriero, G.; Berni, R.; Muñoz-Sanchez, J.A.; Apone, F.; Abdel-Salam, E.M.; Qahtan, A.A.; Alatar, A.A.; Cantini, C.; Cai, G.; Hausman, J.-F.; et al. Production of plant secondary metabolites: Examples, tips and suggestions for biotechnologists. Genes 2018, 9, 2–22. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  64. Marchetti, N.; Bonetti, G.; Brandolini, V.; Cavazzini, A.; Maietti, A.; Meca, G.; Mañes, J. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) as a functional food additive in egg pasta: Enrichment and bioaccessibility of Lutein and β-carotene. J. Funct. Foods 2018, 47, 547–553. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  65. Gülçin, I.; Küfrevioğlu, Ö.I.; Oktay, M.; Büyükokuroğlu, M.E. Antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiulcer and analgesic activities of nettle (Utica dioica L.). J. Ethnopharmacol. 2004, 90, 205–215. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  66. Uncini Manganelli, R.E.; Camangi, F.; Tomei, P.E. L’uso delle erbe nella tradizione rurale della Toscana, 1st ed.; ARSIA, EFFEEMME LITO srl: Firenze, Italy, 2002; ISBN 88-8295-028-X. [Google Scholar]
  67. Della, A.; Paraskeva-Hadjichambi, D.; Hadjichambis, A.C. An ethnobotanical survey of wild edible plants of Paphos and Larnaca countryside of Cyprus. J. Ethnobiol. Ethnomed. 2006, 2, 2–34. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  68. Lentini, F.; Venza, F. Wild food plants of popular use in Sicily. J. Ethnobiol. Ethnomed. 2007, 3, 15. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed][Green Version]
  69. Rivera, D.; Obón, C.; Inocencio, C.; Heinrich, M.; Verde, A.; Fajardo, J.; Llorach, R. The ethnobotanical study of local Mediterranean food plants as medicinal resources in Southern Spain. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 2005, 56, 97–114. [Google Scholar] [PubMed]
  70. Bianco, V.V.; Santamaria, P.; Elia, A. Nutritional value and nitrate content in edible wild species used in southern Italy. Acta Hortic. 1998, 467, 71–90. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  71. Tanji, A.; Nassif, F. Edible Weeds in Morocco. Weed Technol. 1995, 9, 617–620. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  72. Vasas, A.; Orbán-Gyapai, O.; Hohmann, J. The Genus Rumex: Review of traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2015, 175, 198–228. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  73. Enríquez, J.A. Estudio biológico y agronómico de Silene vulgaris. Ph.D. Thesis, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, Cartagena, Spain, 2006. [Google Scholar]
  74. Pinela, J.; Carvalho, A.M.; Ferreira, I.C. Wild edible plants: Nutritional and toxicological characteristics, retrieval strategies and importance for today's society. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2017, 110, 165–188. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed][Green Version]
  75. Kristanc, L.; Kreft, S. European medicinal and edible plants associated with subacute and chronic toxicity part I: Plants with carcinogenic, teratogenic and endocrine-disrupting effects. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2016, 92, 150–164. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  76. Sánchez-Mata, M.C.; Cabrera Loera, R.D.; Morales, P.; Fernández-Ruiz, V.; Cámara, M.; Díez Marqués, C.; Pardo-de-Santayana, M.; Tardío, J. Wild vegetables of the Mediterranean area as valuable sources of bioactive compounds. Genet. Resour. Crop Evol. 2012, 59, 431–443. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  77. Disciglio, G.; Tarantino, A.; Frabboni, L.; Gagliardi, A.; Giuliani, M.; Tarantino, E.; Gatta, G. Qualitative characterisation of cultivated and wild edible plants: Mineral elements, phenols content and antioxidant capacity. Ital. J. Agron. 2017, 12, 383–394. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  78. Santos, R.V.; Machado, R.M.A.; Alves-Pereira, I.; Ferreira, R.M.A. The influence of nitrogen fertilization on growth, yield, nitrate and oxalic acid concentration in purslane (Portulaca oleracea). Acta Hortic. 2016, 1142, 299–304. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  79. Radman, S.; Žutić, I.; Fabek, S.; Šic Žlabur, J.; Benko, B.; Toth, N.; Čoga, L. Influence of nitrogen fertilization on chemical composition of cultivated nettle. Emirates J. Food Agric. 2015, 27, 889–896. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  80. Shaheen, S.; Ahmed, M.; Harron, N. Edible Wild Plants: An Alternative Approach to Food Security; Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2017; ISBN 978-3-319-63036-6. [Google Scholar]
  81. Pêgo, R.G.; Nunes, U.R.; Massad, M.D. Seed physiological quality and field performance of rocket plants. Cienc. rural 2011, 41, 1341–1346. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  82. Putra, P.A.; Yuliando, H. Soilless culture system to support water use efficiency and product quality: A review. Agric. Agric. Sci. Procedia 2015, 3, 283–288. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  83. Santamaria, P. Nitrate in vegetables: Toxicity, content, intake and EC regulation. J. Sci. Food Agric. 2006, 86, 10–17. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  84. Gonnella, M.; Serio, F.; Conversa, G.; Santamaria, P. Production and nitrate content in lamb’s lettuce grown in floating system. Acta Hortic. 2004, 644, 61–68. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  85. Urlić, B.; Dumičić, G.; Romić, M.; Ban, S.G. The effect of N. and NaCl on growth, yield, and nitrate content of salad rocket (Eruca sativa Mill.). J. Plant Nutr. 2017, 18, 2611–2618. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  86. Carvalho, A.M.; Barata, A.M. The consumption of wild edible plants. In Wild Plants, Mushrooms and Nuts: Functional Food Properties and Applications; John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY, USA, 2017; pp. 159–198. ISBN 9781118944622. [Google Scholar]
  87. Ju, Y.; Zhuo, J.; Liu, B.; Long, C. Eating from the wild: Diversity of wild edible plants used by Tibetans in Shangri-la region, Yunnan, China. J. Ethnobiol. Ethnomed. 2013, 9, 28. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  88. Łuczaj, L.; Dolina, K. A hundred years of change in wild vegetable use in Southern Herzegovina. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2015, 166, 297–304. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  89. Mattalia, G.; Quave, C.; Pieroni, A. Traditional uses of wild food and medicinal plants among Brigasc, Kyé, and Provençal communities on the Western Italian Alps. Genet. Resour. Crop Evol. 2013, 60, 587–603. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  90. Quave, C.L.; Pieroni, A. A reservoir of ethnobotanical knowledge informs resilient food security and health strategies in the Balkans. Nat. Plants 2015, 1, 14021. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  91. Stryamets, N.; Elbakidze, M.; Ceuterick, M.; Angelstam, P.; Axelsson, R. From economic survival to recreation: Contemporary uses of wild food and medicine in rural Sweden, Ukraine and NW Russia. J. Ethnobiol. Ethnomedic. 2015, 11, 53. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  92. Delang, C.O. The role of wild food plants in poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation in tropical countries. Progr. Dev. Stud. 2006, 6, 275–286. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  93. Sunderland, T.C.H. Food security: Why is biodiversity important? Int. Forest. Rev. 2011, 13, 265–274. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  94. FAO; IFAD. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015. Meeting the 2015 International Hunger Targets: Taking Stock of Uneven Progress; FAO: Rome, Italy, 2015; pp. 1–56. [Google Scholar]
  95. Pardo-de-Santayana, M.; Tardío, J.; Morales, R. The gathering and consumption of wild edible plants in the Campoo (Cantabria, Spain). Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 2005, 56, 529–542. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed][Green Version]
Figure 1. Floating system cultivation of Sanguisorba minor (a,b) and Rumex acetosa (c).
Figure 1. Floating system cultivation of Sanguisorba minor (a,b) and Rumex acetosa (c).
Molecules 23 02299 g001
Table 1. Bioactive phytoconstituent profile of fifteen Mediterranean wild species selected for their aptitude in cultivation.
Table 1. Bioactive phytoconstituent profile of fifteen Mediterranean wild species selected for their aptitude in cultivation.
SpeciesFamilyPlant PartBioactive PhytoconstituentsPropertiesReferences
Allium ampeloprasumLiliaceaebulbs,
specific saponins (ampelosides Bs1, -Bf1, -Bf2, prosapogenin of aginoside, agigenin 3-O-β-glucopyranosyl(1→3)-β-glucopyranosyl(1→4)-β-galactopyranoside, (25R)-26-O-β-glucopyranosyl-22-hydroxy-5α-furostane-2α,3β,6β, 26-tetraol-3-O-β-glucopyranosil-22-hydroxy-5α-furostane-2α,3β,6β, 26-tetraol-3-O-β-glucopyranosyl(1→4)-β-galactopyranoside), allin, alliicin, γ-glutamyl peptides, S-alk(en)yl-l-ysteine sulphoxides (isoalliin, methiin, cycloalliin)
α-limonene, β-pinene, 9-octadecanoic acid, hexadecanoic acid, trans-caryophylene, dimethyl-trisulfid, caryophylene oxide, phenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins
antifungal and antibacterial, antioxidant, hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic, against gastrointestinal disorders[8,9,10,11,12]
Asparagus acutifolius L.Asparagaceaeshootsflavonoids, phenolic acids (caffeic acid, kaempferol, catechol, quercetin, isorhamnetin), carotenoids (lutein, β-carotene, neoxanthin, violaxanthin), steroidal saponinsradical scavenging and antioxidant, diuretic[13,14,15,16]
Borago officinalis L.Boraginaceaeleaves,
shoots and roots
mucilage, tannins, saponins, flavonoids
allantoin, rosmarinic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B1-B2-B3
antioxidant and pharmacological[17,18,19,20]
Cichorium intybus L.Asteraceaeleavesflavonoids, terpenoids, carotenoids, hydroxicinnamic acids (HCA1-HCA2-HCA3-HCA4-HCA5-HCA6-HCA7-HCA8-HCA9-HCA10-HCA11), caffeic acid, caftaric acid, benzoic acid derivate (BAD), chlorogenic acid, some gallic acid derivatives (GAD1-GAD2), flavonols, anthocyanin, some unknown phenolic compounds, coumarins, sesquiterpene lactones, lactucin, lactucopicrin, α-linolenic acid, apigenin, astragalin, betain, tannins, cichoriin, inulin, kaempferol, quercetin, rutin, taraxasterol, vanillic acid, 2 new coumarin glycoside esters (cichoriin-69-p-hydroxyphenylacetate and benzyl-β-glucopyranoside)antioxidant, antimalarial, digestive, anticancer[21,22,23,24]
Diplotaxis tenuifolia (L.) DC.Brassicaceaeleavesflavonoids, polyphenols, glucosinolates (desulphoglucosinolates, pentylglucosinolate), glucoraphanin, glucoerucin, diglucothiobeinin, glucosativin, allyl sulphyde, sinapine, diplotaxilene, butyleneantioxidant, anticancer[25,26,27,28]
Foeniculum vulgare Mill.Apiaceaeshoots, leaves, stem, inflorescences21 fatty acids (caproic acid, undecanoic acid, myristic acid, myristicoleic acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, lauric acid, pentadecanoic acid, heptadecanoic acid, oleic, linoleic and α-linoleic acid, stearic acid, eicosanoic acid, cis-11,14-eicosadienoic acid, arachidic acid, lignoceric acid), chlorogenic acid, reochlorogenic acid, gallic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid-7-O-glucoside, p-cumaric acid, quercetin-7-O-glucoside, dicaffeoylquinic acid, ferulic acid-7-O-glucoside, hesperidin, cinnamic acid, rosmarinic acid, quercetin, apigenin, eriodictyol-7-rutinoside, limonene-10-ol, isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside, cis-miyabenol, dillapional, exo-fenchyl acetate, quercetin-3-glucoronide, quercetin-3-arabinoside, isoquercetin, kaempferol-3-arabinoside, isoquercetin, kaempferol-3-arabinoside, isorhamnetin glucoside, 3,4-dihydroxyphethylalchohol-6-O-caffeoyl-β-d-glucopyranoside, 3’,8’-binaringenin antioxidant, hepatic activity, sebum-reducing agent, antimicrobial [29,30,31,32,33,34]
Malva sylvestris L.Malvaceaeflowersanthocyanins (malvidin), vitamin C, alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, tannins, phenolic compoundsreduction of coronary heart disease, antioxidant, anticancer, improved visual acuity[20,24]
Papaver rhoeas L.Papaveraceaeleaves,
vitamin C, α-tocopherols, fumaric acid, citric acid, malic acid, tannins
measles treatment, anti-nervousness, anti-insomnia, digestive, against respiratory disorders, anti-baldness, against eye infection[2,35,36]
Portulaca oleracea L.Portulacaceaeleaves, stems, roots, seedscarotenoids, vitamin C, α-tocopherols, specific alkaloids (5-hydroxy-a-p-coumaricacyl-2,3-dihydro-1H-indole-2-carboxylicacid-6-O-β-d-glucopyranoside; 5-hydroxy-1-ferulicacyl-2,3-dihydro-1H-indole-2-carboxylic acid-6-O-β-d-glucopyranoside; 5-hydroxy-1-(p-coumaric acyl-7’-O-β-d-glucopyranose)-2,3-dihydro-1H-indole-2-carboxylicacid-6-O-β-d-glucopyranoside; 5-hydroxy-1-(ferulicacyl-7’-O-β-d-glucopyranose)-2,3-dihydro-1H-indole-2-carboxylicacid-6-O-β-d-glucopyranoside; 8,9-dihydroxy-1,5,6,10b-tetrahydro-2H-pirrolo[2,1-a]isoquinolin-3-one; oleracein A–E; (3R)-3,5-bis(3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenyl)-2,3-dihydro-2(1H)-pyridinone and 1,5-dimetyl-6-phenyl-1,2-dihydro-1,2,4-triazin3(2H)-one), Oleracone, Oleracin I, Oleracin II (novel alkaloids), other alkaloids (trollisine, aurantiamide acetate, aurantiamide, scopoletin, dopamine, noradrenaline, N-trans.feruloyltyramine), saponines, phenolic acids (3-caffeoylquinic acid, 5-caffeoylquinic acid), coumarins, flavonoids (kaempferol, apigenin, luteolin, myricetin, quercetin), 4 homoisoflavonoids (portulacanones A–D), tannins, terpenoids (Portuloside A-B, portulene, lupeol; (3S)-3-O-(β-d-glucopyranosil-3,7-dimethylocta-1,6-dien-3-ol; (3S)-3-O-(β-d-glucopyranosil)-3,7-dimethylocta-1,5-dien-3,7-diol; (2α,3α)-3-{[4-O-(β-d-glucopyranosyl)- β-d-xylopyranosyl}-2,23-dihydroxy-30-methoxy-30-oxoolean-12-en-28-oic acid; (2α,3α)-2,23,30-trihydroxy-3-[β-d-xylopyranosil)oxy]olean-12-en-28-oic acid; friedelane), organic acids (α-linolenic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid), portulacerebroside A, melatoninfood coloring agents, antioxidant and radical scavenging,
anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic and
Fresh juice is used in the treatment of strangury, coughs, sores.
Both leaves and plant juice are effective in the treatment of skin diseases and insect stings.
The infusion of leaves is used against
stomach aches and headaches
Rumex acetosa L.Polygonaceaeleaves and shoots6-methyl-1,3,8-trichlorodibenzofuran, chrysophanol, physcion/parietin, emodin-8-O-β-d-glucopiranoside, naphthalene-1,8-diol, catechin/epicatechin, epicatechina-3-O-gallate, vitexine, vanillic acid, sinapic acid, procyanidin B2 3'-O-gallate, pulmatin, gallocatechin/epigallocatechin, procianidin B2, geraniin, corilagin, ellagic acid, rosmarinic acid, pyrogallolanti-mutagenic and anti-proliferative activities [45,46,47,48]
Sanguisorba minor Scop.Rosaceaeleaves linalool, nonanal, dodecane, tridecane, α-damascenone, tetradecane, β-caryophyllene, hexadecane, heptadecane, octadecane, (E-E)-farnesyl acetate, nonadecane, eicosane, heneicosane, docosane, β-sitosterol, caffeic acid, kaempferol, quercetindigestive properties, antioxidant, astringency, carminative, diuretic[16,49,50,51,52]
Silene vulgaris (Moench) GarckeCaryophyllaceaeleaveslinoleinc and α-linolenic acids, vitamin C, silenan SV, vitamin E, quinic acid, malic acid, trans-aconitic acid, chlorogenic acid, protocatechuic acid, p-coumaric acid, hesperidin, rutin, hyperosideantifungal, anti-enzymatic, antimicrobial and antioxidant, immunomodulatory[7,53,54]
Sinapis arvensis L. Brassicaceaeessential oils, flowers and
monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, nitriles aldehydes, sulphur-containing compounds
benzylisothiocyanate, cubenol, dimethyltrisulfide, 6,10,14-trimethylpentadecane-2-one, indole, 1-butenylisoithiocyanate, thymol, octadecane, spathulenal, hexadecane, 1-epi-cubenol, octadecanol
2-phenilisothiocyanate, δ-cadinene, 9-methylthiononanonitrile, nonadecane, octadecanal, flavonoids (low amount), alkaloids, saponins
tonic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, stomachic, antiscorbutic, antioxidant, spices[55,56]
Taraxacum officinale Web.Asteraceaeflowers,
roots, stems and
tetrahydroridentine B7, taraxacolide-1-O-β-d-glucopyranoside, taraxeryl acetate/taraxerol acetate, taraxic acid, taraxacoside, taraxasterin/taraxasterol/taraxol/β-amirin, taraxafolide, 4,13,11,15-tetrahydroredentine, 11β,13-di-hydrolattucine, ixerin D, arnidiol/faradiol, dihydroconiferine, sitosterol, stigmasterol, apigenin-7-glucoside, luteolin-7-glucoside, luteolin 7-O-rutinoside, quercetin 7-O-glucoside, taraxastane
carotenoids, saponins, alkaloids, flavonoids
4 anthocyanins: cyanidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3-(6-malonyl)-glucoside A-1; cyanidin-3-(6-malonyl)-glucoside A-2), peonidin-3-(malonyl) glucoside, cicoric acid, sinapic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid, chlorogenic acid, p-cumaric acid
analgesic, antirheumatic, cholagogue, diuretic, laxative, hypocholesterole eupeptic, digestive, antioxidant[16,57,58,59,60,61]
Urtica dioica L.Urticaceaeleaves and
young sprouts
carotenoids (lutein and β-carotene), anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acid derivates (chlorogenic acid, dihydrosinapoyl alcohol)
vitamin C, flavonoids, lignans
antioxidant, against stomach ache, against rheumatic pain, against colds and cough, against liver insufficiency and hypertensive, anti-inflammatory and diuretic [62,63,64,65]
Table 2. Traditional recipes prepared with the fifteen Mediterranean wild edible species that have been selected in this review for their aptitude for cultivation.
Table 2. Traditional recipes prepared with the fifteen Mediterranean wild edible species that have been selected in this review for their aptitude for cultivation.
Species.Edible PartTraditional RecipesReferences
Allium ampeloprasumleaves and bulbsmixture of salads, omelet, boiled vegetables, soup[66]
Asparagus acutifoliusyoung shootsboiled with oil and vinegar, omelet, risotto, soup[66]
Borago officinalistender rosetteboiled with olive oil, salt, lemon and vinegar; stewed, omelet, soup, home-made pie[67,68,69]
Cichorium intybustender leavesfresh salads, in pan with olive oil and garlic, pies, ravioli, soup[66]
Diplotaxis tenuifoliafresh leavesmixed salads, pies, pasta, omelet, cheeses, pizza[70]
Foeniculum vulgarefruits, seeds, leavessalads, snacks, boiled, grilled, stewed vegetables, bread, soup [29,66]
Malva sylvestrisfresh leavesravioli, omelet, meatball, soup[66]
Papaver rhoeasbasal rosette leavessalads, ravioli, bread, soup[66]
Portulaca oleracealeavessalads[71]
Rumex acetosayoung leaves, stemssalads, fried, sautéed with butter and lard, pies, raw snacks[72]
Sanguisorba minoryoung leavessalads, boiled vegetables, soup and pureed soup[66]
Silene vulgarisold leavessalads, boiled, fried, sautéed with garlic, omelet[73]
Sinapis arvensisleavesspice as mustard[67]
Taraxacum officinalebasal leavessalad, in pan with olive oil and garlic, ravioli, soup, pie[66]
Urtica dioicaleaves, young sproutsrisotto, pie, ravioli, boiled, cooked in pan with olive oil and lemon, omelet, soup and pasta[66]
Table 3. Concentration of toxic compounds in some Mediterranean wild edible species.
Table 3. Concentration of toxic compounds in some Mediterranean wild edible species.
SpeciesToxic CompoundsConcentrationReferences
Allium ampeloprasum.oxalic acid11.13 ± 0.48 and 6.32 ± 0.65 mg/100·g (two different populations)[76]
Borago officinalispyrrolizidine alkaloid: amabiline, thesinine, intermedine, and lycopsaminen.d. 3 [52,74]
Cichorium intybusnitrate75 mg kg−1 FW 1[77]
oxalic acid8.68 ± 0.05 and 3.00 ± 0.71 mg/100 g (two different populations)[76]
Diplotaxis tenuifolianitrate3874 mg kg−1 FW 1[77]
Foeniculum vulgarephenylpropanoids: trans-anethole and estragole 2.3–4.9% (aerial parts)[74]
phenylpropanoid: estragole0.8 – > 80%[74]
phenylpropanoid: estragolefrom 11.9 to 56.1% in unripe seeds to 61.8% in ripe seed[74]
oxalic acid123.82 ± 8.75 and 402.83 ± 21.87 mg/100 g (two different populations)[76]
Papaver rhoeasnitrate >2.500 mg·kg−1 FW 1[70]
oxalic acid490.00 ± 27.05 and 428.65 ± 63.63 mg/100 g (two different populations)[76]
Portulaca oleraceanitrate48.98 (leaf) and 43.90 mg g−1 (steam) DW 2 [78]
oxalic acid1.27 (leaf) and 0.55 mg g−1 (steam) DW 2[78]
Rumex acetosaoxalates and hydroxyanthracene derivatives: chrysophanol, physcion, emodin, aloe-emodin, rhein, barbaloin (aloin A and B), and sennosides A and Bn.d. 3 [74]
Silene vulgaristriterpenoid saponins n.d. 3 [74]
silenosides A, Bn.d.3[76]
and C oxalic acid201.79 ± 15.98 and 218.73 ± 17.56 mg/100 g (two different populations)
Sinapis arvensisnitrate3028 mg kg−1 FW 1[77]
Taraxacum officinalesesquiterpene lactone taraxinic acid β-glucopyranosyl estern.d. 3 .[61]
Urtica dioicanitrate849–1631 mg kg−1 FW 1[79]
1 FW: fresh weight; 2 DW: dry weight; 3 n.d.: not determined
Table 4. Percentage of germination and mean germination time of seeds of Portulaca oleracea, Rumex acetosa, Sanguisorba minor, Silena vulgaris, Taraxacum officinale, and Urtica dioica in light and dark conditions. Means were compared by one-way analysis of variance with species as the variability factor. Means keyed with different letters (in the same column) are significantly different following Fisher’s least significant difference post-hoc (p = 0.05). Percentage values were arcsine transformed prior analyses.
Table 4. Percentage of germination and mean germination time of seeds of Portulaca oleracea, Rumex acetosa, Sanguisorba minor, Silena vulgaris, Taraxacum officinale, and Urtica dioica in light and dark conditions. Means were compared by one-way analysis of variance with species as the variability factor. Means keyed with different letters (in the same column) are significantly different following Fisher’s least significant difference post-hoc (p = 0.05). Percentage values were arcsine transformed prior analyses.
Germination (%)Mean Germination Time (Days)
Portulaca oleracea64 ± 8 c51 ± 2 c3.3 ± 0.3 d3.7 ± 0.7 bc
Rumex acetosa96 ± 4 a92 ± 1 a3.5 ± 0.4 cd3.5 ± 0.2 c
Sanguisorba minor97 ± 5 a99 ± 2 a3.7 ± 0.2 cd3.9 ± 0.3 bc
Silene vulgaris79 ± 6 ab76 ± 8 b5.3 ± 0.6 b5.0 ± 0.8 b
Taraxacum officinale59 ± 5 c45 ± 6 c4.3 ± 0.4 c4.4 ± 0.6 bc
Urtica dioica11 ± 2 d9 ± 6 d7.8 ± 1.0 a8.5 ± 1.5 a
Eruca sativa (data of [81])88 ± 6 an.d.1n.d.1n.d. 1
1 n.d.: not determined.
Table 5. Biomass yield of hydroponically-cultivated Rumex acetosa and Sanguisorba minor, Valerianella locusta L. Laterr., and Eruca sativa. Data are the mean (± SD) of three independent replicates.
Table 5. Biomass yield of hydroponically-cultivated Rumex acetosa and Sanguisorba minor, Valerianella locusta L. Laterr., and Eruca sativa. Data are the mean (± SD) of three independent replicates.
Plant SpeciesBiomass Yield (g Fresh Weight m−2 day−1)
Rumex acetosa29.5 ± 1.8
Sanguisorba minor22.7 ± 1.3
Valerianella locusta [84]38 ± 2.0
Eruca sativa [85]67.5 ± 5.8

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Ceccanti, C.; Landi, M.; Benvenuti, S.; Pardossi, A.; Guidi, L. Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants: Weeds or “New Functional Crops”? Molecules 2018, 23, 2299.

AMA Style

Ceccanti C, Landi M, Benvenuti S, Pardossi A, Guidi L. Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants: Weeds or “New Functional Crops”? Molecules. 2018; 23(9):2299.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ceccanti, Costanza, Marco Landi, Stefano Benvenuti, Alberto Pardossi, and Lucia Guidi. 2018. "Mediterranean Wild Edible Plants: Weeds or “New Functional Crops”?" Molecules 23, no. 9: 2299.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop