Cistus ladanifer as a source of chemicals: structural and chemical characterization


Different biomass fractions of Cistus ladanifer and solid residues from essential oil distilleries were structurally and chemically evaluated. The C. ladanifer biomass fractions showed chemical differences mainly related to extractives (e.g., 10.8% and 53.7% in stems and leaves) and lignin (e.g., 21.2% and 15.4% in stems and leaves). The distillery residues were characterized by 41.5% extractives and 19.3% lignin, and polysaccharide glucose 51.7% and xylose 24.9% of total monosaccharides. The polar extracts had a high content of phenolics and revealed high antioxidant activity (IC50 3.2 μg/mL and 4.7 μg/mL in stems and cysts extracts).

The lignin structure showed a predominance of S units in the stem (H:G:S of 1:25:50) and a balanced proportion of H, G, and S units in leaves (H:G:S of 1:1.4:1).

The characteristics of C. ladanifer biomass allow several routes of valorization. The high extractive contents point out to the potential use as a source of phytochemicals by applying extraction procedures, while the remaining lignocellulosic material after extraction may be directed towards lignin and carbohydrates applications. The use of C. ladanifer biomass for an extractives-lignocellulosic-based biorefinery therefore represents a potential valorization that may contribute to additional revenue for the present essential oil distilleries.

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Cistus ladanifer


Steam distillation residues




Ferric reducing antioxidant power


Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity


Gallic acid equivalent


Quercetin equivalent


Catechin equivalent


p-Hydroxyphenyl lignin monomeric unit


Guaiacyl lignin monomeric unit


Syringyl lignin monomeric unit


Capillary Zone Electrophoresis


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Júnia Alves-Ferreira is grateful to CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brasília – DF 700 40−020, Brazil (doctoral scholarship – Process 9109/13 − 7). This work was supported by QREN Project “Biomassa Endógena.” Centro de Estudos Florestais is a research unit funded by FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (UID/AGR/00239/2019). Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas is a research unit funded by FCT (UID/AGR/00115/2013). Ana Lourenço acknowledges a post-doc grant by FCT (SPRH/BPD/95385/2013). The authors thank Joaquina Silva and Lídia Silva for their technical support and Cristiana Alves for the preparation of the microtome sections.

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Alves-Ferreira, J., Miranda, I., Duarte, L.C. et al. Cistus ladanifer as a source of chemicals: structural and chemical characterization. Biomass Conv. Bioref. 10, 325–337 (2020).

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  • Extractives
  • Antioxidant activity
  • Polysaccharides
  • Lignin
  • Biorefinery