Agriculturae Conspectus Scientificus, Vol 74, No 2 (2009)

Morphological and Biochemical Diversity of Dalmatian Pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium (Trevir.) Sch. Bip.)


Pages: 73-80


Dalmatian pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium /Trevir./ Sch. Bip.) is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. It is endemic to the East coast of the Adriatic Sea and its natural habitat extends from Italy to northern Albania and up in the mountainous regions of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Pyrethrum flowers yield an important insecticide, the pyrethrin. Pyrethrin is mainly concentrated in oil glands on the surface of the seed inside the tightly packed flower head, but they can also be found in the other plant parts, however in much lower concentrations. The pyrethrin exist as a combination of six insecticide active ingredients: pyrethrin I, cinerin I, jasmolin I, pyrethrin II, cinerin II and jasmolin II, with pyrethrin I and pyrethrin II present in higher concentrations. Pyrethrin is non-toxic to mammals and other worm-blooded animals, it is unstable in light, oxygen, water and at elevated temperatures and therefore highly biodegradable. Due to the fact it is environmentally safe it is leading insecticide in organic farming systems. The most scientific work concerning Dalmatian pyrethrum was focused on its morphological and biochemical traits that are relevant in breeding. Breeding programmes are primarily focused on increasing the yield of pyrethrin per unit area. Relative to dry flower weight, flower heads contain the majority of the pyrethrin. Croatian wild populations contain approximately 0.60 to 0.79 %, while clones in breeding programmes of Australia and Kenya contain up to 3.0 % of pyrethrin.


pyrethrin; pest control; natural insecticides; insect repellent; organic farming

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