Comparative Pharmacognostic Evaluation of Leaves of Citrus sinensis Var. Jaffa and Citrus paradisi

Sohi and Shri: Comparative Pharmacognostic Evaluation of Leaves of Citrus sinensis Var. Jaffa and Citrus paradisi var. Redblush



Citrus, a premier genus of family Rutaceae (sub-family: Aurantioideae), comprises 16 species of evergreen aromatic shrubs and small trees, native to the Indo-Malaysian region, South-East Asia and China. There are also numerous cross-fertile varieties and cultivars. Citrus species are cultivated throughout the tropical and temperate regions globally for their fruit.1 There has been an increased interest in the study of Citrus species in the past few years because of the presence of secondary metabolites in different parts of the plant. Citrus fruit, juice and peel oil are renowned for their health benefits and have been widely employed in herbal medicine and aromatherapy. However the lesser explored leaves are equally promising in terms of therapeutic potential.2 Citrus spp. leaves contain a wide range of phytoconstiuents, including the phenolic flavonoid compounds (flavonones, flavones flavonols and polymethoxyflavones), anthocyanin, psoralens, coumarins and tannins as well as essential oils, carotenoids and limonoids.3,4,5 Two Citrus species representing different horticultural groups, Citrus sinensis (Linn.) var. jaffa (from the group ‘Oranges’) and Citrus paradisi (Macf.) var. redblush (from the group ‘Pummelos’) were selected for the study.

Citrus sinensis (Linn.) var. jaffa: is native to north-east India and China.6 The leaves are used as a folk remedy for insomnia, neurological disorders, diabetes, malaria, cardioprotective, skin diseases, nausea, cough, inflammation, sores, ulcers, scorpion stings and to facilitate digestion of food.7,8,9,10 Leaf extracts have shown antioxidant, antifungal, anti- Helicobacter pylori and larvicidal activity against the dengue vector and negative ionotropic activities in experimental studies.11,12,13,14,15 The leaf oil has insecticidal activity against larvae of Culex pipiens molestus mosquito.16

Citrus paradisi (Macf.) var. redblush: which is native to the Island of Barbados in the West Indies, is now cultivated in all tropical and subtropical regions for fruit.17 Leaves are used as a folk remedy for gout, arthritis, swellings, ulcers, insomnia, infections, cuts and wounds.18,19,20,21 Leaf extracts have shown antioxidant, antitumor, cytotoxic and antibacterial activities.22,23,24

There is a good level of traditional and experimental evidence to support various claims about the therapeutic potential of these Citrus species. However, scientific comparative pharmacognostic studies of the leaves of these two species have not been reported to date. The WHO has recommended that a specific set of standards for medicinal plant products should be generated using modern techniques and standard procedures for authentication of the plant material.25 Hence, the present study attempted to establish pharmacognostic profiles of the leaves of Citrus sinensis var. jaffa and Citrus paradisi var. redblush to ensure identity, quality and purity of the plant material.



Phloroglucinol, glycerine, hydrochloric acid, potassium hydroxide and all other chemicals used in the study were of analytical grade.

Plant material

The leaves of C. sinensis var. jaffa and C. paradisi var. redblush were collected from Regional Fruit Research Station, Abohar, which is affiliated to Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. Collection occured in the month of November 2014 and were authenticated by Dr. Anil Kumar, Assistant Horticulturist, Regional Fruit Research Station, Abohar, Punjab.

Macroscopic and microscopic evaluation

Leaves were subjected to detailed macroscopic examination.26 For microscopy evalution, fresh leaves were fixed in FAA (formalin: glacial acetic acid: alcohol 5:5:90). Ventral and paradermal sections stained with phloroglucinol-HCl and mounted in glycerin were studied at 100x, 400x and 1000x magnification using a compound microscope. Photographs were taken with a Nikon DS-L1-5M camera. Leaf surface constants were determined as per standard procedures.26,27,28

Physiochemical evaluation

The physiochemical parameters of moisture content, volatile oil content, ash values and extractive values were determined as per standard pharmacopoeial procedures and WHO Guidelines.25,29

Fluorescence analysis

Dried powdered leaves were treated with chloroform, methanol, petroleum ether, ethyl acetate, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, acetone, sodium hydroxide etc and observed for colour reactions under visible and ultra violet light.27,30

Preliminary phytochemical screening

Various leaf extracts (petroleum ether, chloroform, methanol and aqueous) were prepared by successive Soxhlet extraction and subjected to qualitative phytochemical screening to check for the presence or absence of different classes of phytoconstituents.31 Percentage yields and physical parameters of all the leaf extracts were recorded.


Macroscopic characteristics

According to World Health Organization, the macroscopic and microscopic description of a medicinal plant is the first step towards establishing its identity and should be carried out before any other tests are undertaken.25 Therefore, various macroscopic features of the leaves were recorded (Table 1) and the diagnostic feature that can help differentiate given two species was found to be a narrowly winged petiole in C. sinensis, whilst a broadly winged petiole having obovate wings was seen in C. paradisi(Figure 1a and 1b). Also, the leaves of C. paradisi were longer and broader than leaves of C. sinensis.

Microscopic characteristics

Examination of ventral sections and paradermal sections of leaves revealed following histoanatomical characteristics:

Upper epidermis

The upper epidermis of both the leaves was composed of three to four layers of polygonal cells having straight anticlinal walls covered with thick layer of cuticle. However, the epidermal cells of C. sinensis are larger (20.5-36.0µ long, 10.6-17.6µ wide) than the epidermal cells of C. paradisi (13.6-30.7µ long, 6.5-17.1µ wide) as shown in Figure 2a and 2b. Prismatic Ca-oxalate crystals (upto 15µ long) can be seen throughout the upper epidermis (Figure 3a and 3b). In both the species, stomata and trichomes are absent.

Mesophyll (Figure 4a, 4b, 5a and 5b)

This region shows typical dicot leaf-like characteristics in both the species. There are two to three layers of cylindrical, tightly packed palisade parenchyma cells. Palisade cells containing Ca-oxalate crystals which protrude into upper epidermis and secretory cavities (upto 75µ in diameter) containing volatile oil can be seen in this region. The rest of the mesophyll is composed of approximately eight-layer thick spongy parenchyma where cells vary in shape and size and have large intercellular spaces. Cells near the lower epidermis are nearly spherical and tightly packed.

Table 1

Macroscopic features of leaves.

FeatureC. sinensis var. jaffaC. paradisi var. redblush
ColourUS: bright and dark green,US: bright and dark green
 LS: light greenLS: light green
OdourSharp and pleasant similar to fruitCitrus like, dull as compared to C. sinensis
TasteBitter and astringentBitter and astringent
Size8 to 13 cm × 2 to 5 cm10 to 16 cm × 3 to 8 cm
ShapeOvateOvate- obovate
ApexAcuteAcute to obtuse
BaseObtuse, symmetricObtuse, symmetric
PetioleNarrowly winged petioleBroadly winged petiole having obovate wings
SpinesAxillary spinesAxillary spines
SurfaceGlabrous, oil dottedGlabrous, oil dotted
VenationPinnate reticulatePinnate reticulate

US: upper surface, LS: lower surface

Figure 1

(a). Leaves of C. sinensis var. jaffa, (b).Leaves of C. paradisi var. redblush, column width.
Figure 2

(a). Upper epidermis of C. sinensis var. jaffa in surface view, (b).Upper epidermis of C.paradisi var. redblush in surface view, column width.

Vascular system

The mid-rib shows a large vascular bundle comprising a crescentic bundle on the abaxial side and a smaller arc on the adaxial side with two xylem and phloem rings with the phloem outermost. The xylem and phloem elements of upper bundle have inversed distribution so that the xylem of the two bundles lies opposite to each other, but separated by a narrow zone of parenchyma. The lower bundle is more developed and is protected by a discontinuous sclerenchymatous sheath (Figure 4a and 4b). Small vascular bundles surrounded by pericyclic fibres can be seen in the lamina portion (Figure 5a and 5b).

Lower epidermis

Cells in this region resemble the cells of upper epidermis in shape and size and are covered with a thick layer of cuticle. Both the species are hypostomatic as abundant shrunken paracytic type of stomata are present on lower epidermis (Figure 6a and 6b). The stomata are more numerous in the case of C. paradisi leaf. Some earlier studies on the epidermal morphology of C. paradisi and C. sinensis have reported the presence of anomocytic stomata.32,33 whilst some researchers have reported the presence of paracytic stomata in both species.34,35,36 Trichomes are absent. Cells containing prismatic Ca-oxalate crystals can also be seen. However, secretory cavities adjoining the lower epidermis were found only in C. paradisi. This is of diagnostic importance (Figure 4a and 4b). Leaf surface constants for both the species were determined and compared which help to identify and differentiate closely allied species Table 2.

Physiochemical evaluation and fluorescence analysis

Unlike taxonomic identification, pharmacognostic study also includes parameters which help in identifying adulteration in dry powder forms. Therefore, physiochemical parameters of powdered leaves were also determined. The percentage of active chemical constituents in the crude drugs is mentioned on an air-dried basis. Therefore, the moisture content of leaves was determined. Aromatic drugs are standardized based on volatile oil content. Hence, the volatile oil content of leaves was also determined. The physiochemical evaluation revealed higher volatile oil content for the leaves of C. sinensis whilst extractive values were found to be higher for C. paradisi (Table 3). Ash values were determined. These values represent inorganic salts or silica naturally occurring in the crude drug, or adhering to it, or deliberately added to it as a form of adulteration. The extractive values were determined and are primarily useful for the determination of exhausted or adulterated drug.37 Fluorescence analysis helps to identify the drug in the powder form, as fluorescence is shown by various phytoconstituents in the range of visible and UV light when treated with different reagents (Table 4).31

Figure 3

(a). Ca oxalate crystals of C. sinensis var. jaffa in surface view, (b).Ca oxalate crystals of C. paradisi var. redblush in surface view, column width.
Figure 4

(a). Ventral section of C. sinensis var. jaffa leaf through midrib, (b).Ventral section of C. paradisi var. redblush leaf through midrib, column width.

Preliminary phytochemical screening

The yields of leaf extracts were recorded as extracts obtained by exhausting plant materials with specific solvents are indicative of approximate measures of their chemical constituents extracted with those solvents from a specific amount of air-dried plant material. This parameter is employed for materials for which as, yet no suitable chemical or biological assay exists.37 Physical parameters and percentage yields of various leaf extracts are summarized in Table 5. Preliminary phytochemical screening of different leaf extracts of both the plants showed the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, steroids, volatile oil, proteins and sugars (Table 6). Results of preliminary phytochemical screening will be useful in finding out the genuity of the drug.


In the present study, an attempt has been made to establish pharmacognostic profile of leaves of C. sinensis var. jaffa and C. paradisi var. redblush which may prove useful to ensure identity, quality and purity of these medicinally important plants for future use.

Figure 5

(a). Ventral section of C. sinensis var. jaffa leaf through lamina,(b).Ventral section of C. paradisi var. redblush leaf through lamina, column width.
Figure 6

(a). Paracytic stomata of C. sinensis var. jaffa,(b).Paracytic stomata of C. paradisi var. redblush, column width.
Table 2

Leaf surface constants.

ParameterValue per sq mm (25 Fields)
C. sinensis var. jaffaC. paradisi var. redblush
Stomatal Number142-180-231378-410-432
Stomatal Index12.7-17.2-19.216.3-22.9-26.5
Palisade Ratio2.5-4.5-7.04.0-5.0-7.0
Vein-Islet Number10.0-13.5-16.58.0-9.5-14.0
Veinlet Termination Number21-24-2720-22-25
Table 3

Physiochemical parameters of powdered leaves.

ParameterMean (%w/w On dry weight basis, n=3)
C. sinensis var. jaffaC. paradisi var. redblush
Foreign matter0.460.55
Loss on Drying4.203.60
Volatile oil content1.000.50
Total ash10.3011.80
Acid insoluble ash1.001.30
Ethanol soluble extractive22.3824.65
Water soluble extractive29.1431.82
Table 4

Fluorescence analysis of powdered leaves.

ReagentC. sinensis var. jaffaC. paradisi var. redblush

VisibleShort UVLong UVVisibleShort UVLong UV
Petroleum EtherGreenPale GreenDark GreenGreenPale GreenBlack
ChloroformBright GreenFluorescent GreenRedGreenFluorescent GreenRed
MethanolGreenPale GreenRedGreenPale GreenRed
AcetonePale GreenGreenBrownPale GreenGreenOrange
1% Glacial Acetic acidGreenPale GreenBrownGreenPale GreenBrown
50% Sulphuric acidDark BrownPale BrownBlackDark BrownPale BrownBlack
50% Hydrochloric acidOrangePale GreenDark GreenOrangePale GreenGreen-Black
50% Nitric acidOrangeGreenGreenOrangeGreenGreen
10% Sodium hydroxideBrownGreenDark GreenBrownGreenDark Green
As such powderGreenDark GreenBrownish greenGreenDark GreenBrownish green

Where short UV=254nm, long UV=365nm

Table 5

Physical parameters of leaf extracts.

Leaf ExtractC. sinensis var. jaffaC. paradisi var. redblush
Yield (%w/w)ColourYield (%w/w)Colour
Petroleum Ether1.89Teak Brown3.17Teak Brown
Chloroform4.88Chestnut Brown5.93Chestnut Brown
Methanol16.69Mustard Brown16.78Golden Brown
Aqueous18.47Pompeian Red24.59Pompeian Red
Table 6

Phytochemical screening of leaf extracts.

PhytoconstituentC. sinensis var. jaffaC. paradisi var. redblush
Mayer’s Test++
Dragendorff’s Test++
Wagner’s Test++
Hager’s Test++
Molisch Test++++
Fehling’s Test++++
Benedict’s Test++++
Barfoed’s Test++++
Selvinoff’s Test+++
Phloroglucinol Test
Cobalt Chloride Test++++
Iodine Test
Fluorescence Test+
Fats and Fixed Oils        
Tincture of Alkanna+++
Shinoda Test++
Lead Acetate Test++
Sodium Hydroxide Test++
Millon’s Test+
Biuret Test
Phenolic Compounds andTannins        
Ferric Chloride Test++++
Lead Acetate Test++++
Foam Test+
Salkowski Test+++
Liebermann-Burchard’s Test++++

PE: petroleum ether, CH: chloroform, ME: methanol, AQ: aqueous



  • The leaves of Citrus sinensis var. jaffa and Citrus paradisi var. redblush are used in traditional medicinal systems of various regions for treatment of a wide range of ailments. Systematic pharmacognostic studies for leaves of these Citrus species have not yet been done. In the present study, an attempt has been made to establish pharmacognostic profile of leaves of C. sinensis var. jaffa and C. paradisi var. redblush which may prove useful to ensure identity, quality and purity of these medicinally important plants for future use. Leaves were subjected to detailed macroscopic, microscopic (qualitative and quantitative), physiochemical, fluorescence and preliminary phytochemical analysis as per standard pharmacopoeial procedures and WHO guidelines. Macroscopic examination showed that leaves of the two species can be differentiated on the basis of nature of petiole, size and shape. Diagnostic microscopic features including the size of the epidermal cells, the type of stomata, stomatal index and location of secretory cavities help to distinguish the two species. Results for physiochemical and fluorescence analysis were recorded which will serve as reference standards. Preliminary phytochemical screening showed the presence of alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, steroids, volatile oils, proteins and sugars. Pharmacognostic standards for leaves have been generated for the first time. These may prove useful to establish identity, quality and purity of these medicinally important Citrus species.


The authors wish to acknowledge the facilities provided by the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research, Punjabi University, Patiala.


[4] Conflicts of interest CONFLICT OF INTEREST There is no conflict of interest.



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