Scutellaria or skullcap is a genus containing approximately 350 species of flowering plants, many of which are sold and marketed for their medicinal value. Flavonoids found in Scutellaria spp. have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antiviral, sedative, antithrombotic and antioxidant affects. Baicalin, a flavonoid produced by Scutellaria spp., is an important compound used to treat anxiety. Scutellaria spp. have potential as commercially valuable specialty crops based on their visual and medicinal properties; however, a lack of commercial production techniques for successful cultivation of this genus precludes adoption by most growers. The influence of plant production techniques on flowering and baicalin synthesis is undocumented; thus, empirical research is needed for development of commercial production protocol. Objectives of this research were to investigate the effect of nutrient application rate and plant available water on growth and baicalin synthesis in Scutellaria arenicola and Scutellaria integrifolia, two common species of Scutellaria found in eastern United States. To accomplish these objectives, S. arenicola and S. integrifolia were cultivated in a greenhouse and subjected to one out of four nutrient application rates and one out of two volumetric water content rates. Results demonstrated that synthesis of baicalin, the main flavonoid of the Scutellaria genus that contributes to its reported medicinal benefits, occurred in both species. Fertilization rate and volumetric water content were found to influence both plant growth and baicalin concentration in S. integrifolia. In contrast to results observed for S. integrifolia, volumetric soil water and nutrient application rate did not influence plant growth in S. arenicola. Scutellaria spp. cultivated in the greenhouse had similar concentrations of baicalin to those harvested from the wild, undisturbed natural habitats. Results from this investigation will assist in development of commercial production protocol for these species and provides the first foundational research that has reported the presence of baicalin, a high value medicinal compound in S. arenicola.
Key words: Skullcap, medicinal, flavonoid, cultivation, production.
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