The aim of this study was to investigate the essential oil profile of Salvia thomasii (Southern Italy) and to assess the relationshipof this taxonomic unit to S. fruticosa. The essential oil, obtained by hydrodistillation, was analysed by gas chromatography(GC) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The main components are β-pinene, viridiflorol, 1,8-cineole,camphor, α-pinene and trans-caryophyllene. The oil was tested for its potential antioxidant activity using 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), Ferric Reducing Ability Power (FRAP) and β-carotene bleaching test. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE)and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) inhibitory activity assays were used to screen the neuroprotective effect of the essentialoil. A clear distinction of the two taxonomic units emerge by the comparison of S. thomasii and S. fruticosa s.l. essential oilcomposition. Considering the weak morphological differences and the clear-cut geographic separation we propose to treatthe Italian unit at subspecies level as Salvia fruticosa Mill subsp. thomasii (Lacaita) Brullo, Guglielmo, Pavone & Terrasi.
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