AJPS  Vol.6 No.19 , December 2015
Ecological and Chemotypic Analysis for Improved Growth and Management of Naturally Occurring Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.) Populations in Western Maryland
Abstract: Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.) is a perennial herb native to deciduous woodlands in eastern North America with an extensive history of traditional use, most commonly for rheumatoid arthritis and female reproductive issues. Modern clinical research has maintained this herb’s relevance into the 21st century with a majority of authentic black cohosh raw material still harvested from naturally occurring populations in Appalachian woodlands for use in botanical supplements. Increased use and interest in black cohosh have led to increased wild harvesting, reports of adulteration, and stress on this important natural resource. In an effort to study this significant medicinal plant as part of an ecosystem, and to understand factors that would contribute to the more effective growth and maintenance of black cohosh, key chemical, physiological, and ecological aspects of two occurring populations in western Maryland were surveyed. Rhizomes were harvested from six populations of naturally occurring black cohosh in two state forests located in the Allegheny Plateau and Ridge and Valley physiogeographic provinces of Maryland. The concentrations of five medicinal compounds found in black cohosh extracts, actein, 23-epi-26-deoxyactein, cafeic acid, ferulicacid, and N-methylserotonin, were compared with plant reproductive status as well as accompanying overstory and under story species, soil moisture, and soil pH at each site. Compound levels showed a complex dependence on physiography but were independent of reproductive state. The findings provide clues to guide efforts at effective growth and management of wild populations of black cohosh and other threatened medicinal plants.
Cite this paper: Vickers, A. , Brosi, S. , Howell, J. , Kaur, B. , Puthoff, D. , Eisenstein, E. (2015) Ecological and Chemotypic Analysis for Improved Growth and Management of Naturally Occurring Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.) Populations in Western Maryland. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 6, 3272-3281. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2015.619319.

[1]   Moerman, D.E. (2009) Native American Medicinal Plants: An Ethnobotanical Dictionary. Timber Press, Portland.

[2]   Hamel, P. and Chiltoskey, M. (1975) Cherokee Plants and Their Uses—A 400 Year History. Herald Publishing Company, Sylva.

[3]   Beral, V. (2003) Breast Cancer and Hormone-Replacement Therapy in the Million Women Study. Lancet, 362, 419-427.

[4]   Blumenthal, M. (2000) Herb Sales Down 3% in Mass Market Retail Stores—Sales in Natural Food Stores Still Growing, but at Lower Rate. Herbalgram, 49, 68.

[5]   Lindstrom, A., Ooyen, C., Lynch, M., and Blumenthal, M. (2013) Herb Supplement Sales Increase 5.5% in 2012: Herbal Supplement Sales Rise for 9th Consecutive Year; Turmeric Sales Jump 40% in Natural Channel. HerbalGram, 99, 60-65.

[6]   Cavaliere, C., Rea, P., Lynch, M. and Blumenthal, M. (2009) Herbal Supplement Sales Experience Slight Increase in 2008. HerbalGram, 82, 58-61.

[7]   Greenfield, J. and Davis, J.M. (2003) Collection to Commerce: Western North Carolina Non-Timber Forest Products and Their Markets. 2003 Report. North Carolina State University, Raleigh.

[8]   NatureServe (2015) NatureServe Explorer: An Online Encyclopedia of Life [Web Application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington.

[9]   University of Maryland Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology Problem Solving Group (1999) Review of Four Species for Potential Listing on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, Appendix II.

[10]   Small, C., Chamberlain, J. and Mathews, D. (2011) Recovery of Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.) Following Experimental Harvests. The American Midland Naturalist, 166, 339-348.

[11]   Foster, S. (2013) Exploring the Peripatetic Maze of Black Cohosh Adulteration: A Review of the Nomenclature, Distribution, Chemistry, Market Status, Analytical Methods and Safety. Herbalgram, 98, 32-51.

[12]   Jiang, B., Yang, H., Nuntanakorn, P., Balick, M., Kronenberg, F. and Kennelly, E. (2005) The Value of Plant Collections in Ethnopharmacology: A Case Study of an 85-Year-Old Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.) Sample. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 96, 521-528.

[13]   Upton, R., Ed. (2002) Black Cohosh Rhizome, Actaea racemosa L., syn. Cimicifuga racemosa (L.) Nutt.: Standards of Analysis, Quality Control, and Therapeutics. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Santa Cruz.

[14]   Jiang, B., Ma, C., Motley, T., Kronenberg, F. and Kennelly, E. (2011) Phytochemical Fingerprinting to Thwart Black Cohosh Adulteration: A 15 Actaea Species Analysis. Phytochemical Analysis, 22, 339-351.

[15]   Ma, C., Kavalier, A., Jiang, B. and Kennelly, E. (2011) Metabolic Profiling of Actaea Species Extracts Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography Coupled with Electrospray Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A, 1218, 1461-1476.

[16]   Case, M., Flinn, K., Jancaitis, J., Alley, A. and Paxton, A. 2007. Declining abundance of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) documented by herbarium specimens. Biological Conservation 134(1): 22-30.

[17]   Mulligan, M. and Gorchov, D. (2004) Population Loss of Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis L. (Ranunculaceae) in Ohio. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 131, 305-310.

[18]   Perdue, J.L. (2011) Maryland Comprehensive State Forest Assessment. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service, Annapolis.

[19]   Li, W., Sun, Y., Liang, W., Fitzloff, J. and van Breemen, R. (2003) Identification of Caffeic Acid Derivatives in Actaea racemosa (Cimicifuga racemosa, Black Cohosh) by Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 17, 978-982.

[20]   Spiering, M. Kaur, B., Parsons, J.F. and Eisenstein, E. (2013) Systems Approaches to Unraveling Plant Metabolism: Identifying Biosynthetic Genes of Secondary Metabolic Pathways. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1083, 253-273.

[21]   Avula, B., Wang, Y., Smillie, T. and Khan, I. (2009) Quantitative Determination of Triterpenoids and Formononentin in Rhizomes of Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) and Dietary Supplements by Using UPLC-UV/ELS Detection and Identification by UPLC-MS. Planta Medica, 75, 381-386.

[22]   Reimann, C. and Filzmoser, P. (1999) Normal and Lognormal Data Distribution in Geochemistry: Death of a Myth. Consequences for the Statistical Treatment of Geochemical and Environmental Data. Environmental Geology, 39, 1001-1014.

[23]   McCoy, J., Davis, J., Camper, J., Kahn, I., and Bharathi, A. (2007) Influence of Rhizome Propagule Size on Yields and Triterpene Glycoside Concentrations in Black Cohosh [Actaea racemosa L. syn Cimicifuga racemosa (L.) Nuttal]. HortScience, 42, 61-64.

[24]   Thomas, A., Crawford, R., Rottinghaus, G., Tracy, J., Applequist, W., Schweitzer, B., Havermann, L., Woodbury, S., Miller, J., Ellersieck, M. and Gray, D. (2007) Occurrence of 23-epi-26 Deoxyactein and Cimicifugoside A in Various Black Cohosh Tissues throughout the Growing Season. Hortscience, 42, 535-539.

[25]   Dixon, R.A. and Palva, N.L. (1995) Stress-Induced Phenylpropanoid Metabolism. Plant Cell, 7, 1085-1097.