No relation to : Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) [a plant with similar common name]
Fragrant Agrimony (Agrimonia procera) to produce
Agrimonia × wirtgenii, which is now extant in only one hectad square. None of the above photos are of that hybrid.
When not in flower, Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)leaves look very similar to those of Agrimony, but the latter has paler leaves and hairy stems midway up (whereas the stems of Meadowsweet are reddish and hairless).
It inhabits grassy places. A yellow dye can be extracted from this plant.
The honey-scented flowers were once added to mead for flavour. The dried leaves have an apricot scent.
The pinnately arranged leaves are alternately large and small but otherwise reminiscent of those of Silverweed, another member of the Rose Family, and are silvery on the underside and have deep forward-pointing serrations. The plant has a single stiff stem with leaves around the lower half, and numerous five-petalled flowers on very short stems held close to the stem on the upper half, all facing outwards.
The fruits are similar to those of Wood Avens (another member of the Rose Family), and are outwardly and downward pointing. It is native and grows in grassy places in both hedgerows and fields throughout most of the UK.
Fragrant Agrimony (Agrimonia procera) is very similar but not nearly as common although it occupies much the same habitats and with much the same distribution. It has hairs at the back of the leaves which when crushed smell fragrantly and the outermost hooked bristles of the fruit are reflexed backwards (rather than forwards of Agrimony). There are also differences in leaves and the fruits are a wider shape.
Agrimophol occurs in Agrimony and is used pharmaceutically as an anthelmintic to treat internal worms and is obtained from Agrimony for this purpose. It causes worms to lose their grip on the lining of the intestine or bladder and to be excreted. Agrimophol is an anthelmintic active against the parasite that causes River Blindness and many common bacteria such as E. coli, Staphylococcus and against other bacteria responsible for dysentry and Typhoid Fever. Note that Agrimophol is a near-dimer (of
Gallic Acid which is described below).
Ellagitannins (a class of secondary metabolites) are a type of polyphenols characterised by biaryl-linked Galloyl groups (from
Gallic Acid) which are esterified to a glucose core. They are found in tea and the wood of trees, especially hardwoods, and are toxic to micro-organisms, helping to preserve the wood. Ellagitannins are brownish. There are literally hundreds of differing ellagitannins, for the galloyl groups can combine in many different ways with the glucose units and with each other, so many that the author cannot possibly show even a fraction of them. Both Ellagitannins and Gallotanins exhibit potent anti-oxidant anti-microbial and anti-phlogistic properties.
Ellagic Acid is a condensation dimer of Gallic Acid. The two Gallic Acid groups have been coloured differently, for easy identification, in red and blue. Elements of the dimer that are common to both are shown in black. Plants produce Ellagic Acid before converting it to ellagitannins. The highest levels of Ellagic Acid are to be found in the fruits of
Strawberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and
Grape. It too possesses anti-oxidant properties. It also inhibits the binding of certain carcinogens such as
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to DNA, but trials of its use in treating prostate cancer have so far proved negative, but this has not stopped certain dietary supplement manufacturers from making illegal exaggerated claims of supposed benefits.
Potentillin is a monomeric ellagitannin and has an α-glycosyl linkage. It consists of a glucose molecule (shown in red). Surrounding the glucose unit are four more Gallic Acid moieties (galloyl groups, shown in blue, apart from the hydroxyl groups). The galloyl groups are also linked together in pairs, apart from a lone one on the right. Potentillin has been found in
Japanese Agrimony (Agrimonia japonica) and in
It is interesting to note that Pedunculagin, another monomeric ellagitannin with one less galloyl group than Potentillin, is also found in many members of the same plant family. Pedunculagin exhibits anti-bacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori.
It can be seen that Agrimoniin is another ellagitannin and is a dimer of two Potentillin molecules. Agrimoniin consisting of two identical Potentillin molecules fused together by an oxygen bridge (central red 'O'). The author has had to bend the molecule slightly in order to more clearly show the near bi-lateral symmetry (the way that oxygen bridge links the two identical units is the only part that is asymmetrical).
Agrimoniin is the very first dimeric ellagitannin to be discovered. Agrimoniin was found in Agrimony, but is now known to also be present in
Strawberry, and some other members of the Rose Family, especially those belonging to the Genera Agrimonia, Potentilla and Fragaria. It has anti-tumour properties amongst a host of other beneficial attributes.
Other constituents of Agrimony are:
The flavonoids Apigenin, Luteolin,
Luteolin-7-glycoside, Quercitrin and Kaempferol.
The Fatty Acids Palmitic Acid and Stearic Acid.
Other acids Salicylic Acid and
Vitamins Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Nicotinamide.
Plus the Triterpenoids α-Amyrin, Ursolic Acid,
Euscapic Acid and
Tormentic Acid, plus some of their glycosides.
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