This is the first report on identification of all B-type proanthocyanidins from monomers to decamers (monomers—flavan-3-ols, dimers, trimers, tetramers, pentamers, hexamers, heptamers, octamers, nonamers, and decamers) and some of their gallates in leaves of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica
Houtt.), giant knotweed (Fallopia sachalinensis
F. Schmidt) and Bohemian knotweed (Fallopia
(Chrtek & Chrtkova) J.P. Bailey). Flavan-3-ols and proanthocyanidins were investigated using high performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) coupled to densitometry, image analysis, and mass spectrometry (HPTLC–MS/MS). All species contained (−)-epicatechin and procyanidin B2, while (+)-catechin was only detected in Bohemian and giant knotweed. (−)-Epicatechin gallate, procyanidin B1 and procyanidin C1 was only confirmed in giant knotweed. Leaves of all three knotweeds have the same chemical profiles of proanthocyanidins with respect to the degree of polymerization but differ with respect to gallates. Therefore, chromatographic fingerprint profiles of proanthocyanidins enabled differentiation among leaves of studied knotweeds, and between Japanese knotweed leaves and rhizomes. Leaves of all three species proved to be a rich source of proanthocyanidins (based on the total peak areas), with the highest content in giant and the lowest in Japanese knotweed. The contents of monomers in Japanese, Bohemian and giant knotweed were 0.84 kg/t of dry weight (DW), 1.39 kg/t DW, 2.36 kg/t, respectively, while the contents of dimers were 0.99 kg/t DW, 1.40 kg/t, 2.06 kg/t, respectively. Giant knotweed leaves showed the highest variety of gallates (dimer gallates, dimer digallates, trimer gallates, tetramer gallates, pentamer gallates, and hexamer gallates), while only monomer gallates and dimer gallates were confirmed in Japanese knotweed and monomer gallates, dimer gallates, and dimer digallates were detected in leaves of Bohemian knotweed. The profile of the Bohemian knotweed clearly showed the traits inherited from Japanese and giant knotweed from which it originated.
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