Plant Resins: Chemistry, Evolution, Ecology, and Ethnobotany by Jean H. Langenheim

By Jean H. Langenheim

Few individuals are conscious of the good range of resin-producing crops or the awesome roles resins play within the lives of crops and folks. Plant Resins tells the entire tale approximately those interesting plant items.

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Highly hydroxylated or sugarsubstituted flavonoids are water soluble but many flavonoids are poorly water soluble or lipophilic, as are some simpler phenolics. Such lipophilic compounds are constituents of plant phenolic resins. Surprisingly, although water-soluble phenolic compounds are abundant in conifers, phenolic resin does not occur (Chapter 2). Internally produced phenolic resins occur only sporadically in flowering plants. More commonly, lipophilic compounds are intermixed with terpenoids in angiosperm resins, particularly those covering the surface of young organs.

Some estimates, of course, are better than others, especially in light of new information. Despite more than a century of research into conifers, there is no widely accepted phylogenetic framework, often referred to as a tree, for their families. Therefore, following a discussion of controversial views regarding their phylogeny, conifers are presented in accordance with their importance in resin production. Families, subfamilies, and genera of conifers are listed alphabetically in Appendix 1. On the other hand, angiosperm resin-producing plants are discussed in the phylogenetic framework presented by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) in 1998 and listed as such in Appendix 2.

It contains large proportions of both mono- and sesquiterpenes, giving it the characteristic high degree of fragrance when used for incense (Chapter 8). Monoterpenes that commonly occur in conifer resins are important in burseraceous resins, along with numerous sesquiterpenes with diverse skeletal frameworks (Figures 1-3 and 1-5). Aregullin et al. (2002) found a sesquiterpene lactone (8-β-hydroxasterolide) in Trattinnickia resin. This is the first report of a sesquiterpene lactone, so common in the Asteraceae, in Burseraceae.

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