In the course of their evolution, plant developed chemical defences when attacked. These phytochemicals inadvertently protect humans against pathogens as antimicrobial medicines. Thus, six clone cultivars of Codiaeum variegatum (Spirale, Royal, Broad Spotted Guinea, Punctatum, Sunray and Royal-like) were chemically and cytologically investigated to evaluate their therapeutic potentials, values and variability. The shoots were relatively rich in alkaloids, cardiac glycosides, saponins, tannins, cardenolides, steroids, and phyllates. Flavonoids, phlobatannins, phenols and anthraquinones were sparingly present. Anthraquinones and cardenolides were absent in ‘Spirale’ while ‘Sunray’ lacked tannins, phlobatannins and phenols. Terpenes were found only in ‘Sunray’. Overall, alkaloids were the most abundant with the highest mean value of 1.46% in ‘Royal’ while flavonoids and anthraquinones were trace, 0.002 and 0.003%, in ‘Sunray’ and ‘Royal-like’. Five pigments, carotene (yellow-orange), phaeophytin (grey), chlorophyll a (blue-green) and b (green), and xanthophyll (yellow) were determined. ‘Spirale’, ‘Royal’, ‘Broad Spotted Guinea’ and ‘Punctatum’ had diploid chromosme number of 2n = 60 while ‘Sunray’ and ‘Royal-like’ possessed 2n = 30 and 24 respectively. ‘Spirale’ and ‘Sunray’ appeared to have reasonably diverged from the rest. Genetic mutation and chromosomes variability could account for the wide morphological variation and morphotypes in this plant species.
Key words: Codiaeum variegatum, cultivars, Euphorbiaceae, chromosome number, phytochemical, pigment.
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