Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-22

Effect of licorice root and cabbage leaf extracts as a natural fertilizer on growth and productivity of Cynara cardunculus L

Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Research, National Research Centre, Giza, Egypt

Date of Submission26-Mar-2020
Date of Decision20-May-2020
Date of Acceptance05-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication24-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
PhD Mohamed Salah Hussein
Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Research, Dokki, Giza 12311
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/epj.epj_13_20

Rights and Permissions

Background There is an ongoing need to find safe natural sources of plant nutrients. Licorice root and cabbage leaf extracts are being used as sources that can be used for growth and yield of crops to substitute inorganic fertilizers.
Objective To study the effect of extracts of cabbage leaves (waste) and licorice roots on Cynara cardunculus L.
Materials and methods This experiment was carried out during two seasons (2017/2018 and 2018/2019) at Aladlya Field, Sekem, Sharkia Governorate, Egypt, to study the influence of some plant extracts, that is cabbage leaves’ extract at 0, 1, 2, and 3 g/l as well as licorice root’s extract at 0, 5, 10, and 15 g/l, on growth, yield, and chemical constituents (NPK, total phenolic content, and phenolic compounds) of C. cardunculus L. plants.
Results and conclusion Both licorice root and cabbage leaf extracts had positive effects compared with control. However, licorice root extract had more effect on C. cardunculus L. plants compared with cabbage leaves’ extract. The main phenolic compounds were apigeni-7-glucoside (50.9272–161.8283 μg/g), rutin (79.8306–152.3828 μg/g), chlorogenic (4.5107–25.7202 μg/g).

Keywords: cabbage, Cynara cardunculus L, growth, licorice, phenolic compounds

How to cite this article:
El-Gohary AE, Wahba HE, Hendawy SF, Hussein MS. Effect of licorice root and cabbage leaf extracts as a natural fertilizer on growth and productivity of Cynara cardunculus L. Egypt Pharmaceut J 2021;20:17-22

How to cite this URL:
El-Gohary AE, Wahba HE, Hendawy SF, Hussein MS. Effect of licorice root and cabbage leaf extracts as a natural fertilizer on growth and productivity of Cynara cardunculus L. Egypt Pharmaceut J [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 8];20:17-22. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Cynara cardunculus L. belongs to the family Asteraceae. The leaves of C. cardunculus are particularly known in folk tradition for their therapeutic potential as choleretic, diuretic, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and cholagogue as mentioned [1],[2]. The seeds are used as a source of protein and edible oil, and also as a source of fixed oil, which produces biodiesel [3]. After oil extraction from seeds, the residual flour could be used for animal feed, both for the quantity and quality of its proteins [4],[5]. Previous investigations had shown the presence of saponins, sesquiterpene, lactones, flavones, sterols, coumarins, and lignans in leaves and seeds [6],[7]. Moreover, the inulin extracted from the roots and cynarin extracted from leaves of cardoon plant are pharmacological active compounds [8],[9]. Cynarin found in the leaves improves liver and gall bladder function, stimulates the secretion of digestive juices especially bile, and lowers blood cholesterol levels [10]. In traditional European medicine, it is clear that the leaves of this plant are rich in polyphenols compounds which has pharmacological properties [11],[12].

Organic extracts are useful for many agriculture purposes [13]. There is an ongoing need to find safe natural sources as plant nutrients. Licorice root and cabbage leaves are being used as sources for studying their effect on growth and yield of the crops as substitution for the inorganic fertilizers. Many studies have been carried out to study the effect of these extracts on crops but very rare on medicinal and aromatic plants. In this connection, some authors [14],[15] showed that spraying onion plant with licorice root extract caused significant increment of vegetative growth and bulb production. Moreover, this extract had favorable effect on fresh and dry weight of plants, flowering, total yield, flower production, and fruit quality of plants such as onion, cucumber, and snap bean [16],[17],[18],[19],[20]. The enhanced effect of this extract may be owing to its richness in amino acids, vitamins, and growth-stimulating photo-hormones that increase the activity of apical meristem tissue, which causes cell division and elongation [21]. The outer leaves of cabbage (waste) that are peeled off before cabbages are distributed in the market were used as the raw material to produce bio-extract. Cabbage is a sulfur-rich plant because the glucosinolate accumulated in cabbage is able to breakdown to produce elemental sulfur, so, cabbage is a sulfur-rich plant. In this respect, cabbage waste contains minerals (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S.), vitamins, and amino acids (aspartic, tryptophan, glycine, etc.) [22].

  Materials and methods Top

Field experiment

This experiment was carried out at Aladlyal Farm, Sekem, Belbis El-Sharkia Governorate, Egypt, to study the influence of some plant extracts on growth, yield, and chemical constituents of C. cardunculus L. plants. The groups of applied treatments were as follows:
  • T1=sprayed with distilled water.
  • T2=sprayed with cabbage leaves’ extract at 1 g/l.
  • T3=sprayed with cabbage leaves’ extract at 2 g/l.
  • T4=sprayed with cabbage leaves; extract at 3 g/l.
  • T5=sprayed with licorice root’s extract at 5 g/l.
  • T6=sprayed with licorice root’s extract at 10 g/l.
  • T7=sprayed with licorice root’s extract at 15 g/l.

Preparation of plants extracts

Ethanolic extraction of cabbage leaves

The powdered samples were soaked in ethanol 80% and shaken on a shaker at room temperature for 48 h. Extracts were filtered using Whatman No. 1 filter paper. Each filtrate was concentrated to dryness under reduced pressure at 40°C using a rotary evaporator [23],[24].

Aqueous licorice root’s extract

The aqueous extract of licorice roots (Glycyrrhiza glabra) was prepared by grinding plant roots which were well dried, and the powdered sample was soaked in water and the mixture was put on a rotary shaker. The extract was purified by filtering twice through Whatman No. 1 filter paper. After purification, each extract was diluted to the required volume for each concentration [24].

Seeds of C. cardunculus L. were kindly provided by ‘SEKEM’ company (3 Cairo-Belbeis Desert Road El Salam City, Cairo, Egypt) and were sown directly in the field on October 21, 2017, and 2018. After 45 days, the plants were sprayed with materials extracts monthly. The plants were thinned twice, leaving one plant per hill.

The plants were harvested at February 21 during both seasons 2018 and 2019. Vegetative growth parameters were recorded, including number of leaves and fresh and dry weight of leaves (g/plant). Chemical analyses were carried out during the second season as follows.

Nutrient determination

Nutrient contents such as total nitrogen (%) were estimated by using the method of Kjeldahl [25], and phosphors and potassium percentages were determined according to Cottenie et al. [26].

Determination of total phenolic content

The total phenolic content was determined according to the Folin-Ciocalteu procedure [27]. The total phenolic content was determined by means of a calibration curve prepared with gallic acid ([Figure 1]) and expressed as μg of gallic acid equivalent per gram of sample.
Figure 1 Calibration curve prepared with gallic acid.

Click here to view

Identification of phenolic compounds

Reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was used to analyze phenolic compounds present in the 50% EE sample, using the separation module (LC-20 AT, Shimadzu Corporation, 14th Floor, Hankyu Terminal Bldg., 1-1-4 Shibata, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0012, Japan) equipped with a C18 column (Vydac, 218 TP, 250 ×4.6 mm, 5 µm particle size; Sigma-Aldrich, St Louis, Missouri, USA) and a diode array detector (Rheodyne, 2809-10th, Berkeley, California 94710, USA). The samples were eluted with a gradient system consisting of solvent A (2% acetic acid, v/v) and solvent B (acetonitrile: methanol, 10 : 15, v/v), used as the mobile phase, with a flow rate of 1 ml/min. The temperature of the column was maintained at 25°C, and the injection volume was 10 µl. The gradient system started from 90% A at 0 min, to 80% A at 10 min, 70% A at 15 min, 60% A at 25 min, 50% A at 30–40 min, 75% A at 42 min, and 90% A at 44 min. The peaks of the phenolic compounds were monitored at 270 nm. Ultraviolet–visible absorption spectra were recorded on-line from 200 to 600 nm during the HPLC analysis.

Electrospray ionization mass spectroscopic analysis of phenolic compounds in 50% EE sample was performed using an Applied Biosystem (API2000 LC/MS/MS System; ABI, Foster city, California, USA). Mass spectra were achieved by electrospray ionization in both positive and negative modes. The capillaries 4500 V (negative) and 5500 V (positive) were used in this study. The electrospray probe flow was adjusted to 20 ml/min. Continuous mass spectra were obtained by scanning from 100 to 800 m/z. Identification of the phenolic compounds of the 50% EE sample from leaves was achieved by comparison with retention times of standards and their ultraviolet–visible absorption spectra and electrospray ionization mass spectroscopic spectra comparisons with literature reports or with reference standards available.

Statistical analysis

The experiment design was completed randomized with three replicates, and each replicate contained 10 plants. The statistical analysis of obtained data was carried out according to Snedecor and Cochran [28]. Differences between means were compared by using Duncan’s multiple range tests at 0.05 [29].

  Results and discussion Top

Variance analysis

Results of variance analysis ([Table 1]) for growth parameters under study showed that they were significantly affected by different treatments.
Table 1 Analysis of variances summary between treatments’ studied traits (number of leaves, fresh weights, and dry weights during 2017/2018 and 2018/2019)

Click here to view

Vegetative growth and characteristics

Results of [Table 2] and [Table 3] revealed that number of leaves and leaves’ fresh weight were significantly affected by spraying materials. Spraying with licorice root extract at 15 g/l resulted in the highest values of leaves number (42 and 36 for first and second seasons, respectively) and leaves’ fresh weight (1558.7 and 1525 g/plant for first and second seasons, respectively), followed by spraying with licorice root extract at 10 g/l on the number of leaves (30 and 31 for first and second seasons, respectively). Application of cabbage leaves’ extract at 3 g/l gave the highest mean values for leaves’ fresh weight (1440.7 g/plant) in the first season, whereas licorice root extract at 10 g/l gave leaves’ fresh weight of 1425 g/plant during the second one. On the contrary, the treatment of spraying with water gave the lowest mean values for the number of leaves (20 and 16) and leaves’ fresh weight (384.75 and 655 g/plant, for the first and second season, respectively). Generally, leaves’ dry weight gave the same trend as mentioned by leaves’ fresh weight, with some exceptions.
Table 2 Influence of cabbage and licorice extracts on number of leaves and leaves’ fresh weight (g/plant) of Cynara cardunculus L. plants for first season

Click here to view
Table 3 Influence of cabbage and licorice extracts on number of leaves and leaves’ fresh weight (g/plant) of Cynara cardunculus L. plants for second season

Click here to view

N, P, and K content (%)

The effect of different extract treatments on nutrients content such as N, P, and K is shown in [Table 4]. It can be noticed that extract treatments had a pronounced effect on N and P % compared with control. Cabbage extract at 3 g/l gave the highest values of N (1.29%) and P (0.18%). These treatments had slight effect on K %, where cabbage extract at 3 g/l gave the maximum value of P (3.4%).
Table 4 Influence of cabbage and licorice extracts on total phenolic compounds (mg/g), total carbohydrate (%), and some minerals content (%) of Cynara cardunculus L. plants during the second season

Click here to view

Total phenolic content (mg/g)

Data tabulated in [Table 4] clears that total phenolic compounds ranged from 8.93 to 16.70 mg/g. Most extract treatments increased total phenolic compounds, except cabbage at 1 g/l, compared with control. Licorice extract at 10 g/l gave the maximum value of total phenolic compounds (16.70 mg/g) followed by cabbage extract at 3 g/l, which was recorded at 14.27 mg/g.

Phenolic compounds (μg/g)

As shown in [Table 4], nine main phenolic compounds were determined using HPLC detection and were identified in C. cardunculus L. samples under different treatments ([Table 5]). The main phenolic compounds were apigeni-7-glucoside (50.9272–161.8283 μg/g), rutin (79.8306–152.3828 μ/g), and chlorogenic (7.878–25.7202 μg/g). The results showed great differences between the different extract treatments. The highest values of apigeni-7-glucoside and chlorogenic were obtained from plants treated with cabbage extract at 1 g/l, whereas cabbage extract at 2 g/l gave the maximum value of rutin compound.
Table 5 Influence of cabbage and licorice extracts on phenolic fractions (μg/g) of Cynara cardunculus L. plants for the second season

Click here to view

Generally, it can be noticed that licorice root extract gave the best results compared with cabbage extract. In this connection, the licorice extract contains about 100 various compounds where some of these compounds are accumulated in large amounts, and most vital of them are triterpene saponins (including glycyrrhizin), phenolic as well as flavonoid (liquiritin, isoliquiritin, and others which cause the yellow color) compounds [30],[31]. Moreover, hispaglabridins A and B as well as isoflavones glabridin which have a significant antioxidant activity are present. Additionally, licorice extract contains protein, amino acid (Asparagine), monosaccharide, tannins, lignins, starch, phytosterols, choline, different types of vitamins (i.e. B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and E), biotin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, many minerals (Al, Ca, Fe, Mg, Co, Zn, P, Na, Si, K, and Sn), as well as bitter principles [32],[33],[34],[35]. Moreover, many investigators [36],[37],[38] found that licorice root extract contains some compounds that have similar effect to that of growth promoters, a wide range of minerals, amino acids, vitamins, and in addition carbohydrate and nitrogen. It also contains mevalonic acid utilized in gibberellin synthesis [39]. Different studies were done on two strawberry varieties, to examine the effect of three concentrations of licorice root extracts (0, 2, and 4 g/l) as a foliar spray on the vegetative and flowering parameters [40], the treatments with licorice extract at 2 g/l gave a significant increment in average leaf area and foliage dry weight, but 4 g/l caused a significant increase in total chlorophyll content. Cabbage waste contains minerals (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S), vitamins, and amino acids (aspartic, tryptophan, glycine, etc.) [22].

From the aforementioned, it can be concluded that the extracts of licorice roots and leaves of cabbage have high nutritive value, where they are high in vitamins, minerals, etc., which influence every phase of plant development and growth.

  Conclusion Top

It can be concluded that both licorice root extract and cabbage leaf extract had a positive effect as compared with the control, but the licorice root extract was more effective on C. cardunculus L. plants as compared with cabbage leaf extract.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Fratianni F, Tucci M, De Palma M, Pepe R, Nazzaro F. Polyphenolic composition on different parts of some cultivars of globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus(L.) Fiori). Food Chem 2007; 104:1282–1286.  Back to cited text no. 1
Krizková L, Mucaji P, Milan N, Jaroslav K. Triterpenoid cynara saponins from Cynara cardunculus L. reduce chemically induced mutagenesis in vitro. Phytomedicine 2004; 11:673–678.  Back to cited text no. 2
Encinar JM, Gonzáles JF, Rodríguez JJ, Tejedor A. Biodiesel fuels from vegetables oils: transesterification of Cynara cardunculus L. oils with ethanol. Energy Fuels 2002; 19:443–450.  Back to cited text no. 3
Foti S, Mauromicale G, Raccuia SA, Fallico B, Fanella F, Maccarone E. Possible alternative utilization of Cynara spp. I. Biomass, grain yield and chemical composition of grain. Ind Crops Prod 1999; 10:219–228.  Back to cited text no. 4
Maccarone E, Fallico B, Fanella F, Mauromicale G, Raccuia SA, Foti S. Possible alternative utilization of Cynara spp.II. Chemical characterization of their grain oil. Ind Crops Prod 1999; 10:229–237.  Back to cited text no. 5
Pinelli P, Agostini F, Comino C, Lanteri S, Portis E, Romani A. Simultaneous quantification of caffeoyl esters and flavonoids in wild and cultivated cardoon leaves. Food Chem 2007; 105:1695–1701.  Back to cited text no. 6
Valentão P, Fernandes E, Carvalho F, Andrade PB, Seabra RM, Bastos ML. Antioxidative properties of cardoon (Cynara cardunculus L.) infusion against superoxide radical, hydroxyl radical, and hypochlorous acid. J Agric Food Chem 2002; 50:4989–4993.  Back to cited text no. 7
Raccuia SA, Melilli MG. Cynara cardunculus L., a potential source of inulin in the Mediterranean environment: screening of genetic variability. Aust J Agric Res 2004; 55:693–698.  Back to cited text no. 8
Curt MD, Sánchez G, Fernández J. The potential of Cynara cardunculus L. for seed oil production in a perennial cultivation system. Biomass Bioenergy 2002; 23:33–46.  Back to cited text no. 9
Grammelis P, Anastasia M, Panagiotis B, Nicholas GD. Cultivation and characterization of Cynara cardunculus for solid biofuels production in the Mediterranean Region. Int J Mol Sci 2008; 9:1241–1258.  Back to cited text no. 10
Perez-Garcia F, Adzet T, Canigueral S. Activity of artichoke leaf extract on reactive oxygen species in human leukocytes. Free Radic Res 2000; 3:661–665.  Back to cited text no. 11
Jimenez-Escrig A, Dragsted LO, Daneshvar B, Pulido R, Saura-Calixto F. In vitro antioxidant activities of edible artichoke (Cynara scolymus L:) and effect on biomarkers of antioxidants in rats. J Agric Food Chem 2003; 51:5540–5545.  Back to cited text no. 12
Veerappan V, Rangnathan U, Mannar J. Effect of organic foliar spray with pulse sprout extract on seed yield and quality of rice (Oryza sativa). J Plant Nutr 2019; 42:900–914.  Back to cited text no. 13
Al-Khafagy AMH, Al-Gebory KDH. Influence of fertilizers and organic nutrients on growth and seed yield of onion. Diyala J Agric Sci 2010; 2:64–83.  Back to cited text no. 14
Ghaloom AA, Faraj MAF. Effect of liquorice extract on growth and yield in onion plants cv.Texas Grano. Diyala J Agric Sci 2012; 4:140–147.  Back to cited text no. 15
Al-Sahaf FH, Al-Marsoumi HGK. Effect of seed soaking and plant spray with GA3, Liquorices root extract and nutrients on growth and flowering traits in Onion, IPA. Agric Res Centre 2001; 11:18–20.  Back to cited text no. 16
Al-Sahaf FH, Al-Marsoumi HGK. Effect of spray GA3 and licorice extract and nutrients in the production of seeds of onion (Allium cepa L). Iraqi J Agric Sci 2003; 34:37–46.  Back to cited text no. 17
Fayad MH. Effect of foliar spraying with some plant growth regulators and plant extracts on growth and yield of cucumber plants [PhD thesis]. Iraq: Faculity of Agriculture, Basra University; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 18
Husain WA, El-Rekaby FH. Response of cucumber plants to foliar spray with garlic, licorice extract and urea on growth and yield. Iraqi J Agric Sci 2006; 37:33–38.  Back to cited text no. 19
Kamal AM, Ghanem KM. Impact of some bio-stimulants on organically cultivated snap bean plants. Egypt J Appl Sci 2012; 27:89–104.  Back to cited text no. 20
Alabdaly HMS. Effect of some nutrients and GA3 and licorice extract to the growth and the production of flowers and a breakthrough in the cup cloves (Dianthus caryophyllus L) [PhD dissertation]. Iraq: Faculty of Agriculture, University of Baghdad; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 21
Worapan S, Theerasak Y, Wullapa Y, Kamo M, Danai V. The effect of bio-extract from cabbage waste ongrowth, yield and quality of volatile oil extracted from Mentha spicata and Mentha arvensis var. piperascens. J Med Plants Res 2011; 5:1673–1676.  Back to cited text no. 22
Taylor RSL, Edel F, Manandhar NP, Towers GHN. Antimicrobial activity of southern Nepalese medicinal plants. J Ethanopharmacol 1996; 45:67–70.  Back to cited text no. 23
Handa SS. An overview of extraction techniques for medicinal and aromatic plants. Trieste, Italy: International Centre for Science and High Technology; 2008. 21–54.  Back to cited text no. 24
Kjeldahl J. Neue Methode zur Bestimmung des Stickstoffs in organischen Körpern, Z. Anal Chem 1883; 188322:366–382.  Back to cited text no. 25
Cottenie A, Verloo M, Kickan L, Velghe G, Camerlynck R. Chemical analysis of plants and soils. Ghent-Belgium: Laboratory of Analytical and Agrochemical State University; 1982; 44–55.  Back to cited text no. 26
Zilić S, Serpen A, Akıllıoğlu G, Gökmen V, Vančetović J. Phenolic compounds, carotenoids, anthocyanins, and antioxidant capacity of colored maize (Zea mays L.) kernels. J Agric Food Chem 2012; 60:1224–1231.  Back to cited text no. 27
Snedecor GW, Cochran WG. Statistical Methods. Ames, Iowa, USA: 7th Iowa State University Press 1980  Back to cited text no. 28
Duncan DB. Multiple range and multiple F-test. Biometrics 1955; 11:1–5.  Back to cited text no. 29
Shibata S. A drug over the millennia: pharmacognosy, chemistry, and pharmacology of licorice, Yakugaku zasshi-J. Pharma Soc Japan 2000; 120:849–862.  Back to cited text no. 30
Shabani L, Ehsanpour AA, Asghari G, Emami J. Glycyrrhizin production by in vitro cultured Glycyrrhiza glabra elicited by Methyl Jasmonate and salicylic acid. Russian J Plant Physiol 2009; 56:621–626.  Back to cited text no. 31
Snow J. Glycyrrhiza glabra monograph. J Bot Med 1996; 3:9–14.  Back to cited text no. 32
Fukai T, Baosheng C, Maruno K, Migakawa Y, Konoshi M, Nomura T, Cai B. An isopernylated flavonone from Glycyrrhiza glabra and re-assay of liquorice phenols. Phytochemistry 1998; 49:2005–2013.  Back to cited text no. 33
Rossi I. Medicinal plants of the world. ’ Vol. 2: chemical constituents, traditional and modern medicinal uses. Otawa, USA: Human Press 1999.  Back to cited text no. 34
Arystanova T, Irismetov M, Sophekova A. Chromatographic determination of glycyrrhizinic acid in Glycyrrhiza glabra preparation. Chem Nat Compd 2001; 37:89–91.  Back to cited text no. 35
Al-Ajaili TAZ. Effect of gebrillic (GA3) and some nutrients to produce glycyrrhizin and some other components in the plant of licorice Glycyrrhizin glnbra L [doctoral thesis]. Iraq: Faculty of Agriculture, University of Baghdad; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 36
Moses TN, Abdul-Jabbar WA, Elwy ANA. Study of some local licorice root powder components (Glycyrrihiza glabra L). Iraqi J Agric Sci 2002; 33:30–38.  Back to cited text no. 37
Sabry GH, Mervat S, Abd EL-Wahba MA. Influence of effective micro-organism, seaweed extract and amino acids application on growth, yield and bunch quality of Red Globe grapevines, J Agric Sci Mansoura Univ 2009; 34:5901–5921.  Back to cited text no. 38
AL-Marsoumi HGK. Effect of some factors in recipes vegetative growth and flowering and holds seed in three varieties of onion (Allium cepa L.) [PhD dissertation]. Iraq: Faculty of Agriculture, University of Baghdad; 1999.  Back to cited text no. 39
Zuhair AD. Effect of foliar spray of zinc and liquorice root extract on some vegetative and flowering growth parameters of two strawberry varieties (Fragaria x ananassa Duch). Mesopotamia J Agric 2010; 38:152–151.  Back to cited text no. 40


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  Materials and me...Results and disc...
  In this article
Article Figures
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded196    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal