Essential oils from Mediterranean lamiaceae as weed germination inhibitors.J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Oct 08; 51(21):6158-64.JA
The essential oils obtained from rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.), thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.), and savory (Satureja montana L.) and the four monoterpenes that are their major constituents have been analyzed by GC and GC-MS and tested for their allelopathic properties on the seeds of three different annual weeds (Chenopodium album, Portulaca oleracea, and Echinochloa crus-galli) and three crops (Raphanus sativus, Capsicum annuum, and Lactuca sativa), with the aim to evaluate in vitro their potential as germination inhibitors. The essential oil composition varied with the species, thymol being the main constituent (44%) of thyme and carvacrol (57%) that of savory oil. Differences in essential oil composition were observed within two different rosemary ecotypes, type A, with alpha-pinene (37%) and 1,8-cineole (23%), and type B, characterized by a 2-fold content of 1,8-cineole (47%). This latest essential oil inhibited completely the germination of weeds while concurrently displaying little effect on pepper. The other two oils showed less selective action. S. montana essential oil, with 57% carvacrol, is the most active compound, completely inhibiting germination both of crops and weeds. Borneol, one of the main constituents of the oil of rosemary type B, showed an activity comparable to that of the whole oil. Crop and weed seeds treated with 1,8-cineole showed germination values that were not significantly different from controls, even if a slowing of the germination process expressed in terms of a significant increase in mean germination time was observed. Monoterpene compounds also present in the essential oils mainly represented the volatile fraction released from the crops and their residues into the soil.