Influence of the season on the salicylate and phenolic glycoside contents in the bark of <em>Salix daphnoides, Salix pentandra</em>, and <em>Salix purpurea</em>


  • N. Förster
  • C. Ulrichs
  • M. Zander
  • R. Kätzel
  • I. Mewis


Due to the benefits of herbal medicine and their wide range of application for human health, the usage of natural drug products, such as willow bark extract, has increased in the last few years. The principle active compounds of the drugs comprised primarily of willow bark are phenolic glycosides like salicylates. Phenolic glycoside profiles of bark vary among species and between the seasons. To identify and preserve willow clones with high salicylate content for possible commercial usage at a later stage, we have screened three Salix sp. in respect to their chemical profiles. The willow species analysed were: Salix daphnoides, Salix pentandra, and Salix purpurea. These species had distinct phenolic glycoside profiles. The major salicylate of S. daphnoides and S. purpurea clones was salicortin, whereas the main compound of S. pentandra was 2’- O-acetylsalicortin. According to the chemical profiles of 140 clones, seven independent clones of S. daphnoides and S. purpurea as well as four clones of S. pentandra with high phenolic glycoside contents were picked to study seasonal changes in bark chemistry. Overall, the clones of S. daphnoides showed the highest mean salicylate and phenolic glycoside contents, followed by S. pupurea and S. pentandra. The secondary metabolite content of willow bark clones decreased during the vegetative season from March to June 2007 and further from June to July 2007. Our study revealed that for optimum yield of phenolic glycosides the species, the clone, and the time of harvest during the season have to be taken in consideration.