Not to be confused with : Rock Samphire (Crithmum maritimum) nor with Marsh Samphire [otherwise known as Common Glasswort (Salicornia europaea) [plants with not only similar names and similar thick fleshy leaves but also with similar habitats (near the sea)]. However, all three belong to not only differing Genera but to differing Families also.
Most similar to : Rock Samphire, but Rock Samphire has multiply-branched leaves, and much smaller flowers which are a very dull yellow.
Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature : The Golden yellow dandelion-type flowers with long, linear succulent-like leaves growing near the sea.
Golden Samphire belongs to the Fleabane Genera (Inula). Grows near the sea on cliffs and in rocky places or damp bare ground and drier salt-marshes, but only on some coasts south of Manchester. Distribution is confined strictly to coastal areas mainly south of the Manchester parallel. No Scottish or Northern England presence. Golden Samphire is a Halophyte (salt tolerant). The leaf tops are edible and sometimes used in salads in Italy.
The monoterpenes α-phellandrene and p-cymene have been found within Golden Samphire.
THYMOL DERIVATIVES OF BISNORLABDANE
Seven novel, previously unknown, thymol derivatives of Bisnorlabdane, a diterpenoid, have been found within Golden Samphire. Some are epoxy derivatives and two are highly unusual (in the plant kingdom) chlorides. Shown on the right (for comparison only) is Thymol, which has not, as far as is known, been reported as being a constituent of Golden Samphire. It is unfortunate that none yet have common names.
Three of them are epoxy derivatives; here the chemically highly vulnerable epoxy group is shown in red. The side groups, in order of the number of carbon atoms, are either acetate, isovalerate or tigliate.
Two other highly un-usual Chlorinated Thymol derivatives of Bisnorlabdane have been found within the plant, which grows near the sea, and hence has a ready supply of chloride salts from which it could (and probably does) obtain the chlorine. It seems likely that it is at the vulnerable epoxy group where the chlorine for oxygen substitution takes place. The chlorine atoms are shown in green. There are several other chlorinated hydrocarbons (Organochlorides) produced in Golden Samphire, some detailed below.
Nepetin is a flavone that exhibits cytotoxic activity and is an antimitotic agent, inhibiting cell division by mitosis. Cirsimaritin is another flavone and has been shown to function as an adenosine antagonist within rats.
Quercetagetin (not shown) is a flavone which occurs in the
Eriocaulon species (
Pipewort). The one depicted here is the 3-methylether of Quercetagetin, and as such is a yellow dye occurring in the flowers of Golden Samphire.
IsoRhamnetin-3-Glucoside (also known as Tamarixin, which is found in Tamarisk) is the aglycone of Isorhamnetin (not shown), an O-methylated flavonol.
NOVEL BUTYL GLYCOSIDES
Three novel butyl glycosides have been identified within Golden Samphire. These are not the only butane (C4)H10) containing compounds contained in Golden Samphire, several others are detailed below, some of which are chlorinated.
THE ESSENTIAL OIL
The essential oil contains several monoterpenes:
3% Benzene Dimethylether
0.9% Germacrene D
0.7% Thymol methyl ether
and four more organochlorides:
0.3% 1,1-dichloroethane (CH2Cl⋅CH3)
0.3% 1,2,2,2-tetrachloroethane (CH2Cl⋅CCl3)
0.2% 1,2,3,4-tetrachlorobutane (CH2Cl⋅(CHCl)2⋅CH2Cl)
plus 0.9% of the silicon-containing 1-methyl-1-phenyl-1-silacyclobutane, depicted below, as well as many other more minor constituents.
AN ORGANO-SILICON COMPOUND
The essential oil contains, amongst many other constituents, 0.9% of the silicon containing 1-methyl 1-phenyl 1-silacyclobutane, a carbosilane. Although quite a few plants take up soluble silicates from the ground, amongst them Stinging Nettle, this is the only silicon-containing compound that the author has found which is reportedly produced within a plant. (Many plants use the silicides as structural components for rigidity of stems; Stinging Nettle also uses it to build the trichomes (hollow stinging hairs made of silica (silicon dioxide). The silicon atom is shown in a golden-sand yellow colour.
Silacyclobutanes have a propensity to polymerise under the right conditions, and are used by manufacturing industry (some of the so-called 'silicones').