Historical Examples of Allelopathy and Ethnobotany from the Mediterranean Region

  • Giovanni Aliotta
  • Azim U. Mallik
  • Antonino Pollio


The true scientific study of plants began as a consequence and a part of the great intellectual movement of the sixth century BC in Asia Minor and in the Mediterranean Region. Greek and Roman scholars viz., Theophrastus, Cato the Elder, Varro, Vergil, Columella and Pliny the Elder wrote treatises on agriculture dealing with aspects of good crop husbandry used to minimize weed interference with crops by hand weeding, mechanical methods, tillage, burning and mulching. They were the forerunners of allelopathy. In this chapter we combined our expertise in reviewing the agricultural and ethnobotanical knowledge of ancient Greeks and Romans. In particular we focused our attention on medicinal and edible plants (rue, olive, squill and lavender). Their ethnobotanical information suggests great opportunities for the future through full evaluation of their potential allelochemicals in plant interactions.


Olive Mill Wastewater Juglans Regia Vegetable Waste Ethnobotanical Knowledge Radish Seed 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aliotta, G., Cafiero, G., De Feo, V., Di Blasio, B., Iacovino, R. and Oliva, A. (2000) Allelochemicals from Rue (Ruta graveolens L.) and Olive (Olea europaea L.) oil mill waste waters as potential natural pesticides. Curr. Topics Phytochem. 3, 167–177.Google Scholar
  2. Aliotta, G., Cafiero, G., De Feo, V., Palumbo, A.D. and Strumia, S. (1996) Infusion of rue for control of purslane weed: biological and chemical aspects. Allelopathy J. 3, 207–216.Google Scholar
  3. Aliotta, G., Cafiero, G., De Feo, V. and Sacchi, R. (1994) Potential allelochemicals from Ruta graveolens L. and their action on radish seeds. J. Chem. Ecol. 20, 2761–2775.Google Scholar
  4. Aliotta, G., Cafiero, G. and Fiorentino, A. (2002) Phenolic compounds from olive mill wastewater against the “tricky germination” of two worst weeds. In: M.R. Reigosa and N. Pedrol (Eds.), Allelopathy from Molecules to Ecosystems. Kluwer Academic Publisher, Dordrect, The Netherlands, pp. 129–138.Google Scholar
  5. Aliotta, G., Cafiero, G., Oliva, A. and Pinto, G. (1996) Ethnobotany of Rue (Ruta graveolensL.): an overview. Delpinoa. 37, 63–72.Google Scholar
  6. Aliotta, G., De Feo, V., Pinto, G. and Pollio, A. (1999) In vitro inhibition of algal growth by Ruta graveolens L. extracts: biological and chemical aspects. Plant Biosyst. 133, 185–191.Google Scholar
  7. Aliotta, G., De Santo, N.G., Pollio, A., Sepe, J. and Touwaide, A. (2004) The diuretic use of Scilla from Dioscorides to the end of the 18th century. J. Nephrol. 17, 342–347.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Aliotta, G., Fiorentino, A., Oliva, A. and Temussi, F. (2002) Olive oil mill wastewater: isolation of polyphenols and their phytotoxicity in vitro. Allelopathy J. 9(1), 9–17.Google Scholar
  9. Aliotta, G., Ligrone, R., Ciniglia, C., Pollio, A., Stanzione, M. and Pinto, G. (2004) Application of microscopic techniques to the study of seeds and microalgae under olive oil wastewater stress. In: F.A. Macias, J.C.G. Galindo, J.M.G. Molinillo and H.G. Cutler (Eds.), Allelopathy Chemistry and Mode of Action of Allelochemicals. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, pp. 289–314.Google Scholar
  10. Buenzen, E.J., Schnepple, D.J., Bauer, B.A., Elkin, P.L., Riddle, J.M. and Motley, T.J. (2004) Techniques: bioprospecting historical herbal texts by hunting for new leads in old tomes. Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 25(9), 494–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Capasso, R. (1997) The chemistry, biotechnology and ecotoxicology of the polyphenols naturally occurring in vegetable wastes. Curr. Topics Phytochem. 1, 145–156.Google Scholar
  12. Capasso, R., Cristinzio, G., Evidente, A. and Scognamiglio, F. (1992) Isolation, spectroscopy and selective phytotoxic effects of polyphenols from vegetable waste waters. Phytochemistry 31, 4125–4128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cato, M.P. (1979) On Agriculture. (Davis Hooper W. translator), Loeb Classical, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA.Google Scholar
  14. Columella, Lucius Junius Moderatus (1994) On Agriculture. (Heffner E. and Foster E.S. translators), Loeb Classical, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA.Google Scholar
  15. Duke, J.A. (1986) Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.Google Scholar
  16. Duke, S.O., Dayan, F.E., Rimando, A.M., Schrader, K.K., Aliotta, G., Oliva, A. and Romagni, J.G. (2002) Chemicals from nature for weed management. Weed Sci. 50, 138–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Farnsworth, N.R. (1990) The role of ethnopharmacology and the search for new drugs. In J. Chadwick and J. Marsh (Eds.), Bioactive Compounds from Plants. John Wiley & Sons, Chicester, UK, pp. 2–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grieve, M. (1967). A Modern Herbal. Hafner Publishing Co., London, UK.Google Scholar
  19. Holland, B.K. (1994 Prospecting for drugs in ancient texts. Nature 369, 702PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karamanoli, K., Vokou, D., Menkissoglu, U. and Costantinidou, H.I. (2000) Bacterial colonization of phillosphere of Mediterranean aromatic plants. J. Chem. Ecol. 26, 2035–2048.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Molisch, H. (2001) Der Einfluss einer Pflanze auf die andere Allelopathie. Jena: Verlag G. Fisher, 1937. (English translation by A.B.M. Mallik and S.S. Narwal (Eds.), Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur).Google Scholar
  22. Morton, A.G. (1981) History of Botanical Science. Academic Press, London, UK.Google Scholar
  23. Oliva, A., Lahoz, E., Contillo, R. and Aliotta, G. (1999) Fungistatic activity of Ruta graveolens L. extract and its allelochemicals. J. Chem. Ecol. 25, 519–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Oliva, A., Lahoz, E., Contillo, R. and Aliotta, G. (2002) Effects of Ruta graveolens leaves on soil characteristics and early seedling growth of four crop species. Ann. Appl. Biol. 141, 87–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Oliva, A., Meepagala, K.M., Wedge, D.E., Harries, D., Hale, A.L., Aliotta, G. and Duke, S.O. (2003) Natural fungicides from Ruta graveolens L. leaves, including a new quinolone alkaloid. J. Agric. Food Chem. 51(4), 890–896.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pachlatko, J.P. (1998) Natural products in crop protection. Chimia 52, 29–47.Google Scholar
  27. Papachristos, D.P., Karamanoli, K., Stamopoulos, D.C. and Menkissoglu-Spiroudi U. (2004) The relationship between the chemical composition of three essential oils and their insecticidal activity against Acanthoscelides obtectus (Say). Pest Manag. Sci. 60, 514–520.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pascual-Villalobos, M.J. (2002) Anti-insect activity of bufadienolides from Urginea maritima. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (Eds.), Trends in New Crops and New Uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA, pp. 564–566.Google Scholar
  29. Pliny Secundus (1938–1963) Naturalis History (Rackman H., Eichholz D.E., Jones W.H.S. translators), Loeb Classic Library, Cambridge, Harvard University Press; London, Heinemann.Google Scholar
  30. Piomelli, D. and Pollio, A. (1994) Medicinal plants. Nature. 371, 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Polunin, O. and Walters, M. (1985) A Guide to the Vegetation of Britain and Europe. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  32. Raven, J.E. (2000) Plants and Plant Lore in Ancient Greece. Leopard’s Head Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  33. Rice, E.L. (1984 Allelopathy. Academic Press, Orlando, Florida, pp. 422.Google Scholar
  34. Theophrastus (1980) Enquiry into Plants. (Hort A.F. translator), Loeb Classical, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA.Google Scholar
  35. Varro Marcus Terenzius (1979) On Agriculture. (Davis Hooper W. translator), Loeb Classical, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA.Google Scholar
  36. Verbiscar, A.J., Patel, J., Banigan, T.F. and Schatz, R.A. (1986) Scilliroside and other scilla compounds in red squill. J. Agric. Food Chem. 34, 973–979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Vergil Publius Maro (1989) Eclogue, Georgics Aeneid. (Goold G.P. translator), Loeb Classical, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA.Google Scholar
  38. Vokou, D. (1992) The allelopathic potential of aromatic shrubs in phryganic (east Mediterranean) ecosystems. In: S.J.H. Rizvi and V. Rizvi (Eds.), Allelopathy Basic and Applied Aspects. Chapman & Hall, London.Google Scholar
  39. Vokou, D. (1999) Essential oils as allelochemicals: research advances in Greece. In: S.S. Narwal (Ed.), Allelopathy Update: Basic and Applied Aspects. Oxford & IBH Publishing Co., New Delhi.Google Scholar
  40. Zobel, A.M. and Brown, S.A. (1988) Determinations of furocoumarins on the leaf surface ofRuta graveolens with an improved extraction technique J. Nat. Prod. 51, 941–946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Aliotta
    • 1
  • Azim U. Mallik
    • 2
  • Antonino Pollio
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesSecond University of NaplesItaly
  2. 2.Department of BiologyLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada
  3. 3.Department of Biological Sciences Section of Plant BiologyUniversity of CasertaFrederico IIItaly

Personalised recommendations