Editor's Note
This study compares contents and chromatographic fingerprints of phenolic acids and triterpene in black cohosh rhizomes from commercial batches from wild harvests and individual plants from the wild and from cultivation. Phenolic acidsʼ contents and profiles were generally comparable between wild harvesting and cultivation, but the total triterpene glycoside content was significantly lower in cultivation. In individual plants, different profiles of triterpene glycosides occurred. Potentially, such differences have an impact on the efficacy of black cohosh herbal products, if cultivated plant material is used for manufacturing.
Abstract

The medicinal plant  Actaea racemosa  is a perennial, whose rhizome (black cohosh rhizome) is usually wild harvested on a multiton scale to meet market requirements. Since this North American species is increasingly endangered, cultivation is needed. Even though studies prove that cultivation is possible, it has not been widely established. This may be due to a different quality of cultivated material, which does not comply with current pharmacopoeial requirements. This study compares contents and chromatographic fingerprints of phenolic acids and triterpene glycosides in different types of black cohosh rhizomes. Commercial batches from wild harvests were compared to individual plants from the wild and from cultivation. Phenolic acidsʼ contents and profiles were generally comparable between wild harvesting and cultivation. On the contrary, the total triterpene glycoside content was significantly lower in cultivation (p ≤ 0.001). In individual plants, different profiles of triterpene glycosides occurred. Possibly, specimen or chemotype selection for cultivation would cause a shift of the triterpene glycoside profile of cultivation batches away from the common pattern found in batches from wild harvesting. Potentially, such differences have an impact on the efficacy of black cohosh herbal products, if cultivated plant material is used for manufacturing.