- There are numerous references in the literature concerning
the use of various Arctostaphylos species as medicinal plants.
One of the species, A. uva-ursi, was listed in the United States
official compendia from 1820 until 1946 as a urinary antiseptic.
Many species indigenous to the Pacific Northwest were employed
by the Indians for a variety of uses, ranging from consuming the
ripe fruits as a food to utilizing the leaves in urinary tract and
other infections. Early settlers in the West consequently used
the plants for the same purposes.
Phytochemical investigations of the genus Arctostaphylos
have not been extensive although several members of the family,
Ericaceae, yield compounds restricted only to the family. A
thorough review of the literature revealed that there has been little phytochemical investigation of species other than
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. Therefore, the purpose of this study was
to thoroughly investigate two other Arctostaphylos species, viz.,
A. Columbiana and A. patula, for organic components. The development of newer methods of extraction, isolation and identification, as well as, a screening of both plants for possible biological
activity was also pursued.
A new extraction solvent mixture was utilized in order to
extract all of the components of interest in one extraction procedure. The residue from the extraction was then separated into
two fractions; one containing sterol and triterpenoid compounds;
and the other, phenolic components.
The sterol and triterpene fraction of A. patula yielded the
following isolated compounds; β-amyrin, β-sitosterol, ursolic
acid, uvaol, and nonacosane. Only ursolic acid and uvaol were
previously shown to exist in the genus. The identical fraction of
A. columbiana was screened chromatographically for the same
components and all except nonacosane were identified in this
manner. Nonacosane was also isolated from A. columbiana.
A separation of the components of the phenolic fraction was
attempted using several standard methods. However, the method
utilized for the identification of these compounds consisted of thin-layer chromatography and ultra-violet analysis. A relatively
crude mixture was chromatographed along with a standard, both
spots were eluted from the plate, scanned on a spectrophotometer,
and co-spotted in three different solvent systems. This procedure
proved the presence of the following compounds in both species;
arbutin, ellagic acid, gallic acid, hydroquinone, hyperin and
quercetin. The presence of o-pyrocatechuic acid, found in other
members of the genus and family, could not be confirmed in these
A screening for antibacterial and antifungal properties was
conducted on crude plant extracts as well as the compounds found
to be present in both plants. Some extracts of both plants demonstrated more antibacterial and antifungal activity than did any of
the pure compounds. Further investigation is warranted in this
Generally, the results obtained demonstrated the applicability of the new extraction scheme devised for the screening of
hitherto uninvestigated plants. Eleven compounds were identified
in both species, three of which had not been demonstrated in the
genus previously. Another compound, assumed to be widespread
in the family, was found to be absent in A. columbiana and