The Apiaceae family consists of several species which are well known for their therapeutical use and also as spice plants. Although fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), caraway (Carton carvi L.), anise (Pimpinella anisum L.), coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.), dill (Anethum graveolens L.), angelica ...>(Angelica archangelica L.) and lovage (Levisticum officinale Koch.) are also economically considerable cultures, data on their flowering biology are rather scarce. This review supports data on the characteristic constitution of flowers and inflorescences, flowering dynamics, pollination mechanism and crossability of some of the most significant medicinal and spice species.
The inflorescence is a compound umbel. Flowers are hermaphrodite, however also monoeceous, mainly male flowers are turning up too. In blooming of a plant individual, a strict sequence is observed. The main umbel is the first to bloom, followed by the different range umbels in order of their range. In their pollination, both wind and insects are considered to be active. For each species, proterandry is characteristic. Although autogamy is considered to be almost unpossible, and geintonogamy as well as xenogamy to be the most characteristic ways of fertilization, several cases of self-fertilization proved to be also successful. Crossability among cultivars or species is depending on the genotype combination and usually produces less seed set than the above forms of fertiliiation.
In the recent studies two Foeniculum vulgare Mill. populations (Hungarian and Korean) had been studied in open field trials in 1997-98 in Budapest for the identification of their essential oil characteristics. The essential oil accumulation level as well as the composition of the oil were studied during ontogenesis and at 6 phases of the umbel...development from budding to overripening.
In the vegetative phases, the accumulation level of the essential oil was higher in the Hungarian genotype. In the leaf rosette stage, anethole is the main compound in both genotypes (40-96%), except the root of the Korean populations which contains 54% dillapiol. The accumulation level of anethole is slightly decreasing, while dillapiol is slightly increasing during the ontogeny. a- and [3-pinenes are characteristic compounds of the leaves, especially in the Korean genotype (10-11%). Before seed setting, fenchone was present in a considerable amount (7.5%) only in the umbels of the Hungarian genotype.
During the generative development, the maximum values of essential oil content are reached at the milky fruit stage (10,11%) in the Hungarian. and at the green fruit stage (7.1% ) in the Korean type, while the composition of the essential oil changed only slightly. The ratio of fenchone is increasing after flowering and being stable during ripening. Anethole varies to a smaller extent in the umbels, only.
We proved, that the dinamics of essential oil accumulation and the oil composition may vary according to genotype. Based on our results, the Korean population is characterized in the system of Bernáth et al. (2) as a high anethol-low methyl chavicol chemoform of the anethol chemovariety (fenchone<15%; anethole>68%; methyl chavicol< 3,2%).
Differences were demonstrated in esterasei coenzyme pattern of some essential oil producing plants belonging to the Apiaceae family — fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill.), angelica (Angelica archangelica L.), lovage (Levisticum officinale Koch.), dill (Anethum graveolens L.), coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.), anise (Pimpinella anisum L.), caraw...ay (Carum carvi L.) — as well as differences between two varieties of fennel seed by using isoelectric focusing. That method provides quality control in essential oil plants and is suitable to describe isoenzyme pattern characteristic for taxons.
Based on our findings, isoelectric focusing seems to be suitable for identification and differentiation of different plant samples, providing an easy tool for further processing as well as for breeding.
Our further aim is to apply that method to differentiate among samples belonging to the same species according to their value of inner content.