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Maree, J.E., Viljoen, A.M. 2012. Phytochemical distinction between Pelargonium sidoides and P. reniforme – A quality control perspective . South African Journal of Botany 82: 83-91.
Pelargonium sidoides is indigenous to South Africa and highly valued by traditional healers as a remedy to treat coughs, upper respiratory tract irritations and gastrointestinal conditions. An ethanolic extract of P. sidoides is used in the proprietary herbal tincture known as Umckaloabo®. Despite the commercial development of P. sidoides very few studies have been conducted to document the full phytochemical range of variation for natural populations and to date only one paper has been published on the development of a fast accurate quality control method for the validation of raw material. In this study P. sidoides (n = 96) and P. reniforme (n = 57) fresh root samples were collected from different localities in southern Africa. Phytochemical fingerprints of the two species were generated by analytical techniques including high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC), liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS), fourier transform near infrared (FT-NIR), fourier transform mid infrared (FT-MIR) spectroscopy, proton nuclear magnetic (1H NMR) spectroscopy and NIR hyperspectral imaging. Fingerprinting results revealed distinct phytochemical differences and similarities between the two species. The HPTLC and LC-MS chromatograms confirm reports that P.reniforme does not contain umckalin. All analytical methods investigated showed the potential to discriminate between P.sidoides and P. reniforme.