Alkaloidal variation in the genus Pearsonia

Ben Erik Van Wyk, Gerhard H. Verdoorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Several quinolizidine alkaloids, including various angelate esters, are known from the genus Pearsonia. In a detailed variation study which included 98 samples from nine of the 11 species, large qualitative and quantitative differences were recorded. The observed variation is ascribed to the following: 1, species (the alkaloids of some species and subspecies are diagnostically different); 2, provenance (various populations of the same species may have unique combinations of alkaloids); 3, developmental stage (in P. cajanifolia there is a marked decreased in esterification towards the end of the growing season); 4, plant parts extracted (seeds, for example, have high concentrations of hydroxylated lupanine-type alkaloids and only small amounts of esters). These results highlight some of the problems associated with the use of alkaloids as taxonomic characters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-695
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemical Systematics and Ecology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 1991


  • Crotalarieae
  • Pearsonia, Fabaceae
  • chemotaxonomy
  • quinolizidine alkaloids
  • variation study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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