Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, chemical ecology and invasion biology of Acanthus mollis L.

Abstract

Ethnopharmacological relevance: Acanthus mollis L. (Bear's Breeches) is a wide-spread medicinal and ornamental plant and is particularly suited to exemplarily illustrate the diverse aspects of invasion biology by neophytes. Since ancient times, it has been a popular Mediterranean ornamental plant in horticulture and served as model for the decoration of column capitals in architecture. Aim of the study: In the present review, we aimed to give an overview about ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, chemical ecology, and invasion biology of A. mollis. Thus, the importance of plantation cultivation in the presence of ecologically problematic species and environmental protection were emphasized. Materials and methods: We conducted an extensive literature search via screening PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science, in order to compile the data about A. mollis and its role on invasion biology and thereby attracting attention to the prominence of the horticultural and agricultural cultivation of plant species with a special focus on A. mollis as a model. Results and conclusion: Phytochemical analyses revealed secondary metabolites from the classes of flavonoids, phenols, phenylpropanoids, anthraquinones arylnaphthalene lignans, phytosterols and others. Extracts of A. mollis and isolated phytochemicals not only exert assorted activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective in murine and human experimental models, but also act against plant parasites (bacteria, insects, mollusks, fungi), protecting the plant from microbial attack and herbivorous predators. A. mollis has been used in traditional medicine to treat dermatological ailments, gastrointestinal diseases, ulcers and even tumors. Nevertheless, the robustness and rapid growth of A. mollis as well as the global horticultural trade facilitated its invasion into fragile ecosystems of Australia, New Zealand, and several other spots around the globe in Northern Europe (Great Britain), Asia (China, India), South Africa, and South America (Argentina). The release of A. mollis from gardens into the wild represents a considerable danger as invasive species are threatening biodiversity and leading to the extinction of domestic plants in the long run. Likewise, the likelihood of other medicinal plants in terms of invasion biology are needed to be fully recognized and discussed.