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Liatris - Othonna

(Daisy or Sunflower family)


Liatris odoratissima Willd.
[syn. Trilisia odoratissima Cass.]

The fragrance raw materials, deertongue absolute and deertongue incolore (also known as liatris oleoresin), are prepared by extraction of the leaves of this species. No irritant, sensitising, phototoxic, nor photosensitising properties could be demonstrated with either material (Opdyke 1976, p. 743; 1979, p. 763).

Ligularia fischeri (Ledeb.) Turcz.
[syn. Cineraria fischeri Ledeb.]
Fischer's Leopard Plant, Fischer's Ragwort, Gomchwi

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Matricaria L.

About 40 species are found in southern Europe and western Asia, ten in southern Africa, and two in western North America. The genus is classified in the tribe Anthemideae.

Potentially allergenic sesquiterpene lactones have been reported from the following species:

Matricaria nigellaefolia DC.
Matricaria suffruticosa Druce
[syn. Tanacetum suffruticosum L.]
Matricaria zuurbergensis Oliver 

Matricaria chamomilla L.
[syns Chamomilla recutita Rauschert, Chrysanthemum chamomilla Bernh., Matricaria chamomilla L. var. recutita Grierson, Matricaria recutita L.]
Blue Chamomile, German Chamomile, Hungarian Chamomile, Matricaria, Pin Heads, Scented Mayweed, Single Chamomile, Wild Chamomile, Camomille Vraie, Echte Kamille

The use of preparations of the herb in traditional medicine as an antiseptic douche, as a gargle for apthous ulcers, or as a poultice or compress for cuts, bruises, ulcers and other skin disorders has been reported by Stuart (1979). The volatile oil from the plant comprises up to 50% (−)-α-bisabolol, which has been demonstrated to have antiinflammatory activity in rats (Jakovlev & von Schlichtegroll 1969). Wren (1988) provides an overview of the various biological activities of this and the many other substances that have been isolated from the plant.


An extract of the flowers was found to have antibiotic and phototoxic properties against one of three test micro-organisms, correlating with the presence of polyacetylenes and thiophenes (Wat et al. 1980).

Chamomile tea prepared from this species was found to have a marked hypnotic effect (Gould et al. 1973).

Hausen (1979) reported that this plant has a moderate sensitising capacity in guinea pigs.

Weakly positive patch test reactions to the petals have been observed in two patients reacting more strongly to Anthemis arvensis L. (Möslein 1963). Beetz et al. (1971a) described German chamomile as a sensitiser. A 40 year old florist who had allergic contact dermatitis from Tanacetum parthenium Sch.Bip. showed a positive patch test reaction to an extract of German chamomile and 9 other members of the family Compositae (Hausen 1981b). A very similar case of a 63 year old hobby gardener was described by Hausen & Osmundsen (1983). A 27 year old florist showed strong positive reactions to the petals and leaves of Matricaria chamomilla, weaker reactions to Chamaemelum nobile All. She also reacted to Kamillosan™ ointment (van Ketel 1982). van Ketel (1987) reported a further case of allergy to Matricaria chamomilla resulting from occupational exposure.

Cross-sensitivity reactions between this species, Laurus nobilis L. (fam. Lauraceae), and liverworts of the genus Frullania Raddi (fam. Jubulaceae) may also be observed (Krauskopf & Amkov 1975, Fernandez de Corres & Corrales Torres 1978, Hausen & Osmundsen 1983).

A fragrance raw material known as German chamomile oil, blue chamomile oil, or Hungarian chamomile oil is prepared by steam distillation of the flowers and stalks of this species. The oil, when applied under occlusion to rabbit skin for 24 hours, was moderately irritating. When applied at a dilution of 4% in petrolatum to human skin in a 48 hour closed patch test, no irritant reactions were observed. A maximisation test failed to sensitise any of 25 volunteers (Opdyke 1974). No phototoxic effects could be demonstrated with the undiluted oil (Forbes et al. 1977).

The plant yields desacetylmatricarin which produced positive patch test reactions in a sesquiterpene lactone sensitive patient (Mitchell JC 1973 — unpublished observation).

Microglossa mespilifolia Robinson
[syns Aster mespilifolius Less., Nidorella mespilifolia DC., Microglossa mespilioides Benth. & Hook.f.]

The powdered plant is intensely irritant to the eyes and respiratory tract (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962).

Microglossa pyrifolia Kuntze
[syns Microglossa volubilis DC., Psiadia volubilis Baill., Conyza pyrifolia Lam.]

The juice from the crushed young roots is irritant to the eyes (Irvine 1961, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962). A blistering, necrotic action in wounds results from its use in an arrow poison (Kerharo & Bouquet 1950).

Mikania capensis DC.

This southern African species produces caustic effects (Bryant 1909).

Munnozia polymnioides H. Robinson & Brettell
[syn. Erato polymnioides DC.]

α-Terthienyl, a phototoxic thiophene (see Tagetes L. below), has been reported from the roots of this species (Bohlmann & Grenz 1979).

Mutisia homoeantha Wedd.

α-Terthienyl, a phototoxic thiophene (see Tagetes L. below), has been reported from the roots of this species, but was not found in the roots of M. acuminata Ruiz & Pav. (Bohlmann et al. 1979b).

Olearia axillaris Benth.
[syns Aster axillaris F.Muell., Eurybia axillaris DC., Shawia axillaris Sch.Bip.]
Coastal Daisybush

Contact sensitivity to this plant and cross-sensitivity to other members of the Compositae was observed by Burry et al. (1973) in 4 from 13 patients with "Australian bush dermatitis".

Olearia viscidula Benth.

Some persons who hand pull the weed suffer dermatitis (Maiden 1912, Maiden 1918a).

Oncosiphon pilulifer (L.f.) Källersjö
[syns Cotula pilulifera L.f., Cotula globifera Thunb., Matricaria globifera (Thunb.) Fenzl ex Harv. & Sond., Tanacetum globiferum (Thunb.) DC.]

[Information available but not yet included in database]

Onopordum acanthium L.
Common Cotton Thistle, Scotch Thistle

The topical use of the contused herb and juice for cancerous affections of the skin (Piffard 1881) suggests irritancy.

Onopordopicrin, a potentially allergenic sesquiterpene lactone, has been reported from this species.

Otanthus maritimus Hoffsgg. & Link
[syns Diotis maritima Smith, Diotis maritima Cosson, Diotis candidissima Desf., Filago maritima Hill, Neesia maritima Spreng.]

As well as guaianolides lacking the structural features (Mitchell & Dupuis 1971) associated with contact allergenicity in this class of compounds, this European maritime species has been reported to contain sesamin (Sabri et al. 1983), a known elicitor of sesame oil (Sesamum indicum L., fam. Pedaliaceae) contact dermatitis.

The genus Otanthus Hoffsgg. & Link is monotypic.

Othonna euphorbioides Hutch.

This occasionally cultivated S.W. African succulent plant bears long spines (Ginns 1968).

Richard J. Schmidt

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