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The effect phosphorus on the productivity of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Schultz Bip).


Feverfew is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. It is mainly used for the prevention and moderation of the frequency and severity of migraine headaches (Johnson et al., 1985) and as an anti-inflammatory in rheumatoid arthritis (Patrick et al., 1989). Feverfew has also been traditionally used for anaemia, earache, and indigestion; as an abortifacient and as a remedy to eliminate parasites from the intestines (Johnson et al., 1985, Chevallier, 2001). Since feverfew is an important medicinal plant, any study as related to the cultivation aspects of this plant is of prime interest. It is clear that environmental factors have a great impact on the productivity of this plant (Fonseca et al., 2006). In commercial medicinal plant production, the main objective is to produce high biomass yields per hectare with high levels of secondary metabolites. Nutritional requirements have a major effect on the yield and growth of all horticultural and agronomic crops (Default et al., 2003). On the other hand the level of secondary metabolites in medicinal plants may be positively or negatively affected by the kind and amount of nutrient elements. Phosphate plays a central, pivotal metabolic and regulatory role on the nexus of several physiological and biochemical processes in plants, including photosynthesis, energy conservation, inter- and intracellular co-ordination of carbohydrate metabolism (Abel, 2002) and in energy transfer (Harley, 1971).

Trivino and Johnson, (2000) have reported that total yield of volatile oil of (Origanum majorana L.) was increased by 50% as P was increased up to 3.0 mM in soil solution (Trivino and Johnson, 2000). Moreover, the fresh and dry weights were increased twofold by P treatment as compared to the control. Ichimura et al., (1995) observed that P significantly increased the fresh weight and essential oil concentration in Sweet basil (Ichimura et al., 1995). Similar results have been noted with black cumin (Nigella sativa) and coriander (Corianderum sativum) by several workers. (Das et al., 1991; Ughreja and Chundawat, 1992). The main objective of present study was to investigate the effects of different P levels on the yield and essential oil concentration of feverfew.

Materials and Methods

Plant Material

The seeds of feverfew were provided by Zardband Pharmaceutical Company located in Tehran, Iran. This experiment was carried out at the Research Station, College of Agriculture, Tarbiat Modares University (TMU) in the suburb of Tehran, Iran. The station is located at 1215 m above sea level, latitude 35[degrees], 48[degrees] north. Plants were grown in sandy loam, with good drainage. Some of physicochemical characteristics of the soil are shown in Table 1. The experiment was arranged as a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with three replications in 2004 and 2005. The treatment consisted of 4 P rates (0, 50, 100, 150 kg [ha.sup.-1]) as triple super 1 phosphate. Phosphorus was band-placed in two rows, 100 mm deep and 150 mm apart at each site. The seedlings of equal height and vigour were hand transplanted from the nursery bed to the field on April 15. Each plot was of 2 [m.sup.2]. The seedlings were planted between the fertilizer bands in rows, 30 cm apart and there was 20 cm distance between every plant. All plots were furrow irrigated immediately after transferring the seedlings to the field. Irrigation was carried out every day for one week to establish the seedlings in soil. Hoeing and mechanical weeding were done as needed.

Plant height was measured at the full flowering stage. Large foliar mounds with flower stalks were harvested with a sharp knife, leaving about 5 cm above the ground surface and placed in a paper bag. The fresh weight and flower number were recorded. All samples were air dried. The dry weight of all samples was measured and the essential oil was extracted by subjecting flowers and leaves (40 g, 3 times) to hydro-distillation for 3 h using an all glass Clevenger-type apparatus, according to the method outlined by the European Pharmacopoeia (Anonymous, 1996). The concentration of oil expressed as percentage w/w in dry matter. Data were subjected to analysing variance and means were compared using Duncan's New Multiple Range Test (DNMRT).

Results and Discussion


The combined statistical analysis of both years showed that plant height, flower numbers per plant, fresh and dry weights and essential oil concentration increased significantly by soil P application as compared to control (p [less than or equal to] 0.05).

The data of both years demonstrated that soil P fertilization had a significant effect on the mean of plant height, flower numbers per plant, fresh weigh, dry weight and essential oil concentration with respect to control (Figures 1,2,3,4,5). However, dry weight significantly increased with increasing P level up to 100 kg /ha (Fig 4).





No further response was obtained with higher P rate. In the present study, the lowest and highest amounts of essential oil was recorded with o and 150kg P/[ha.sup.-1] respectively. However, there was no significant difference 1 between 100 and 150 kg P/[ha.sup.-1] on the essential oil concentration.



The data of this investigation showed that all growth parameters were positively affected by phosphorus application. Phosphorus significantly increased fresh and dry matter, flower numbers, plant height and essential oil concentration. The total dry matter is an important criterion for crop production. The most effective P rate was 100 kg/ha and increasing the amount of phosphorous to 150 kg/ha did not significantly affect either the morphological characteristics or essential oil concentration in feverfew. These results are similar to those of Salardini et al., (1994) with pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium) who reported that application of 100 kg P/ha significantly increased achenes and pyrethrin yield for this crop (Salardini et al., 1994).They are also in agreement with the data of Nikolova et al., (1999) who showed P fertilization increased the essential oil concentration of chamomile (Nikolova et al., 1999) and with Nilbe et al., (2005) who observed increasing biomass of chamomile (Nilbe et al., 2005). It is well documented that phosphorus is an essential element in reproductive and vegetative growth of plants (Marschner, 1986) and thus, the vegetative growth and flower numbers stimulation and increased by applied P was expected in our study. Phosphorus is also known to have multifarious cellular functions in plants, including: signalling and transmembrane metabolic flux and therefore, the secondary metabolism is modulated by these mechanisms (Ram et al., 2003). In conclusion, it appears that P is a crucial nutrient element for feverfew cultivation. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that on sites low in available P, the crop be supplied with adequate P. Furthermore, the authors suggest that the influence of P soil addition on the growth, chemical composition and biochemical indices of feverfew be thoroughly studied on locations with wide range of climatology, physical and chemical properties and mineralogical characteristics.


Abel, S., C.A. Ticconi and C.A. Delatorre, 2002. Phosphate sensing in higher plants. Physio plant, 115: 1-8.

Anonymous, 1996. European Pharmacopoeia, 3rd Edition. Council of

Chevallier, A., 2001. The encyclopedia of medicinal plants, Dorling Kindersley, London, pp: 336.

Das, A.K., M.K. Sadhu and M.G. Som, 1991. Effect of N and P levels on growth and yield of black cumin (Nigella sativa L.) Hort. J., 4: 41-7.

Default, R.J.J., R. Rushing, B.M. Hassell, G. Shepard and B. Ward, 2003. Influence of fertilizer on growth and marker compound of field-grown Echinacea species and Feverfew. Scientia Hort, 98: 61-69.

Fonseca, J.M., J.W. Rushing, N.C. Rajapakse, R.L. Thomas and M.B. Riley, 2006. Potential implications of medicinal plant production in controlled environments: the case of Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Hort. Sci., 41:531-535.

Harley, J.L., 1971. Mycorrhiza. Oxford University Press, London.

Ichimura, M., M. Ikushima, T. Miyazaki and M. Kimura, 1995. Effect of phosphorus on growth and concentration of mineral elements and essential oils of sweet basil leaves. Acata. Hort., 396: 195-202.

Johnson, E.S., N.P. Kadarn and D.M. Hylands, 1985. Efficacy of Feverfew as prophylactic treatment of migraine. Br. Med. J., 291: 569-573.

Marschner, H., 1986. Mineral nutrition of higher plants. P: 195. Academic Press, London.

Nikolova, A., A.K. Kozhuharova, V.D. Zheljazkov and L.E. Craker, 1999. Mineral nutrition of Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita L.). Acta Hort. 502: 203-208.

Nilbe, C.M., C.M. Vieira, A. Nestor, Z. Heredia and J.M. Siqueira, 2005. Biomass production of chamomile capitula as a result of nitrogen and phosphorus. Hort Braz, 23(1): 32-37.

Patrick, M., S. Heptinstall and M. Doherty, 1989. Feverfew in rheumatoid arthritis: a double-blind placebo controlled study. Ann. Rheum. Dis., 48: 547-549.

Ram, M., R. Singh, D. Ram and R.S. Sangwan, 2003. Foliar application of phosphate increased the yield of essential oil in menthol mint (Mentha arvensis). Aus J. Agri. Exper., pp: 1263-1268.

Salardini, A.A., K.S.R. Chapmana and R.J. Holloway, 1994. Effect of basal and side dressed phosphorus on the achene yield and pyrethrins concentration in the achenes of Pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium) and on soil and plant phosphorus. Aust. J. Agric. Res., 45: 231-41.

Trivino, M.G. and C.B. Johnson, 2000. Season has a major effect on the essential oil yield response to nutrient supply in Origanum majorana. J. of Hort Sci & Bio., 75(5): 520-527.

Ughreja, P.P. and B.S. Chundawat, 1992. Nutritional studies in coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.).II. Effect on growth and production. Gujarat Agric. Univ. Res. J., 17: 87-93.

(1) M.J. Saharkhiz and (2) R. Omidbaigi

(1) Department of Horticultural Science, College of Agriculture, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.

(2) Department of Horticultural Science, College of Agriculture, Tarbiat Modarres University, Tehran, Iran.

(1) M.J. Saharkhiz and R. Omidbaigi, The Effect Phosphorus on the Productivity of Feverfew (Tanacetum 1 2 parthenium (L.) Schultz Bip), Adv. in Nat. Appl. Sci., 2(2): 63-67, 2008

Corresponding Author: M.J. Saharkhiz, Department of Horticultural Science, College of Agriculture, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran. E-Mail: and Phone: +98-711-6138144. Fax: +98-711-228 6133
Table 1: Some physical and chemical characteristics of the
experimental soil

EC dS [m.sup.-1] pH O.[C.sup.1] (%) T.N (%) P (mg [kg.sup.-1])

2.1 6.7 1.59 0.64 10.4

K (mg [kg.sup.-1]) Silt (%) Sand (%) Clay (%)
18 68 14

1-Organic matter 2-Total Nitrogen
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Title Annotation:Original Article
Author:Saharkhiz, M.J.; Omidbaigi, R.
Publication:Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences
Article Type:Report
Date:May 1, 2008
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