Diversity of southern sweet-grass in its natural habitat and in cultivation
Introduction: Southern sweet-grass (Hierochloë australis /Schrad./ Roem. & Schult.) is a wild growing plant. Its leaves, collected from natural sites, are aromatic raw material used in alcohol industry and as a food additive. Their quality is highly diversified. Objective: The aim of the study was to compare the development of plants and the accumulation of coumarin in leaves of southern sweet-grass occurring in natural environment and introduced into cultivation. Methods: The in situ and ex situ studies were carried out on the same population. Observations on plant development, morphological parameters of leaves and their weight were made. In the leaves, the level of the coumarin was detected by HPLC-DAD as well as the total contents of flavonoids and phenolic acids were determined spectrophotometrically. Results: Plants from the natural stand and from cultivation differed significantly in the developmental and morphological parameters as well as in the content of biologically active compounds. Plants from natural site were characterized by a significantly higher coumarin content in leaves, whereas those from cultivation – higher weight of leaves and higher generative reproductive capacity. Conclusions: In cultivation, H. australis is characterized by much less variation in both developmental and yielding parameters, including leaf weight and coumarin content.