Zeravschania membranacea (Boiss.) Pimenov as an aromatic edible plant is wildly grown in Iran. This investigation reports on the chemical composition and biological activities of the essential oil of Z. membranacea for the first time. Gas chromatography (GC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analyses revealed 35 compounds, constituting 97.44% of the total essential oil composition. The major constituents were δ-3-carene (13.64%), linalyl acetate (12.58%), sabinene (8.29%) and α-terpinene (8.23%). Compared to the standard antioxidants, the essential oil had a weak antioxidant activity as measured by 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhdrazyl (DPPH) assay (IC50 = 17.512 ± 5.648 mg/mL; P <0.05). However, the antioxidative capacity evaluated by the ferric reducing antioxidant power (acid equivalent antioxidant capacity = 0.719 ± 0.197 mg/mL) assay was higher than the one evaluated by the DPPH assay (when compared with the standard antioxidants). The antimicrobial activity of the essential oil was evaluated using agar disc diffusion and microdilution broth methods against food-related microorganisms, namely Escherichia coli O157 : H7, Salmonella typhimurium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, Candida krusei, Rhodotorula mucilaginosa and Rhodotorula rubra. According to the zone of inhibition (ZOI), the essential oil exhibited an intermediate antimicrobial effect (ZOI: 12–19 mM) against the tested microorganisms except P. aeruginosa (ZOI: 10 mM). Furthermore, the minimum inhibitory concentration values (ranging from 960 to 5,120 μg/mL) indicated an intermediate to weak antimicrobial activity of the essential oil. The essential oils of Z. membranacea can be considered a natural source for food industries. However, further investigations should be accomplished to determine the efficacy of the essential oil as a natural preservative in food models.

Practical Applications

Z. membranacea (Boiss.) Pimenov as an aromatic edible plant is wildly grown in Iran. Its habitat is restricted to Iran. However, the plant or its derivatives have not yet been effectively investigated and utilized. The dried aerial parts of Z. membranacea are traditionally used as seasoning agent of foodstuffs in Iran. In the folk medicine, the analgesic properties of the plant or its essence have been accepted among Iranians. We anticipate that this investigation will provide sufficient evidence for acceptable biological characteristics of the plant essential oil for further evaluation and utilization.