Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 73, Issue 3, pp 189–195 | Cite as

Comparative Analysis of Native Crocus Taxa as a Great Source of Flavonoids with High Antioxidant Activity

  • Ivana ŠolaEmail author
  • Mirta Stipaničev
  • Valerija Vujčić
  • Božena Mitić
  • Ana Huđek
  • Gordana Rusak
Original Paper


Native Crocus taxa are abundant in regions with moderate and dry climate; however, their potential in the food industry has thus far been neglected. The objective of this study was to compare the quantitative and qualitative flavonoid content and antioxidant and cytotoxic activity in organs of several populations of Croatian native taxa and assess their potential for application in the food industry. The dominant flavonoids in the native Crocus taxa were kaempferol and quercetin. Tepals contained similar or higher concentrations of flavonoid-glycosides than other organs. Tepals from Cvv1 and Cvv2 populations contained more flavonoid-glycosides than the commonly used spice saffron (C. sativus stigmas). The FRAP antioxidant activity of Cvv1 and Cvv5 tepals was similar to that of standard Trolox. DPPH inhibition of Cvv1 and Cvv3 tepals was within the range of that recorded for saffron. Cvv1 tepals significantly reduced reactive oxygen species in the broadest concentration range (50–1000 μg/ml), and showed considerable antioxidant activity in the ABTS assay, equal to 82% of standard Trolox antioxidant activity. A significantly higher concentration of kaempferol-rutinoside was recorded in this than in other taxa. The flavonoid showed a very strong or strong correlation with antioxidant assays results, and a negative correlation with cellular reactive oxygen species concentration. We therefore presumed that kaempferol-rutinoside is one of the main antioxidant phenolics in Crocus tepals. None of the tested extracts showed cytotoxicity toward Caco-2 cells. The results revealed that Cvv tepals have potential as a food supplement and are a promising material for further food safety tests.


Crocus malyi Crocus vernus ssp. albiflorus Crocus vernus ssp. vernus Food potential Kaempferol-rutinoside RP-HPLC 



2,2′-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid)


Crocus malyi (location North Velebit)


Crocus sativus


Crocus vernus ssp. albiflorus (location Jelenje, Delnice)


Crocus vernus ssp. vernus (location Botanical Garden, Zagreb)


Crocus vernus ssp. vernus (location Čulinec, Zagreb)


Crocus vernus ssp. vernus (location Grad mladih, Zagreb)


Crocus vernus ssp. vernus (location Čazma)


Crocus vernus ssp. vernus (location North Velebit)


2′,7′-dichlorofluorescin diacetate




ferric reducing antioxidant power












reactive oxygen species

tot. aglyc.

total aglycones

tot. glyc.

total glycosides



The authors thank Ksenija Durgo and Dario Hruševar for help with cytotoxic test and collecting part of the plant material in this study. The study was financially supported by the University of Zagreb (Grants No. 20281217 and 000070002401), Croatia.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Faculty of Food Technology and BiotechnologyUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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