• caffeoylquinic acids;
  • cultivars;
  • Cynara cardunculus;
  • phytochemicals;
  • sodium chloride


BACKGROUND: Cynara cardunculus is a species native to the Mediterranean basin. It includes globe artichoke and cultivated cardoon as well as their progenitor wild cardoon. The species is a source of biophenols, and its leaf extracts have been widely used in herbal medicine as hepatoprotectors and choleretics since ancient times. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of increasing the level of salinity in the nutrient solution (1 or 30 mmol L−1 NaCl) on biomass production, mineral composition, radical-scavenging activity, caffeoylquinic acids and flavonoids in three artichoke (‘Romolo’, ‘Violetto di Provenza’ and ‘Violetto di Romagna’) and three cultivated cardoon (‘Bianco Avorio’, ‘Bianco Gigante Inerme’ and ‘Gigante di Romagna’) cultivars grown in a floating system.

RESULTS: Increased salinity in the nutrient solution decreased the leaf dry biomass and leaf number of artichoke and cultivated cardoon cultivars. Salinity reduced macro- and microelement accumulation in leaves (e.g. N, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn and B) but improved their antioxidant activity, total polyphenols, chlorogenic acid, cynarin and luteolin. The cultivated cardoons, especially ‘Bianco Avorio’ and ‘Gigante di Romagna’, showed higher biomass and leaf number than those observed in artichoke genotypes. ‘Violetto di Provenza’ exhibited the highest content of chlorogenic acid, closely followed by ‘Violetto di Romagna’, whereas for cynarin content the highest values were recorded in ‘Violetto di Provenza’, ‘Bianco Avorio’ and ‘Gigante di Romagna’. The highest content of luteolin was recorded in ‘Gigante di Romagna’ and ‘Bianco Avorio’, while the highest content of apigenin was observed in ‘Gigante di Romagna’.

CONCLUSION: The results showed that the floating system could be considered an effective tool to improve quality aspects through proper management of the salt concentration in the nutrient solution. They also suggest that specific cultivars should be selected to obtain the desired profile of bioactive compounds. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry