Assessment of the heavy metal content of wild and cultivated Pelargonium Inquinans: an herbal plant used for the treatment of diverse ailments in South Africa

01 Feb 2021

Investigation into the heavy metal contents of two plant parts (leaf and stem) of Pelargonium inquinans collected from cultivated field (Alice) and wild population (Grahamstown) both in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa were carried out by using wet digestion method followed by aspiration into Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (FAAS). Five heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Fe, Mn and Pb) were studied in both plants parts. The results obtained showed that all the heavy metals were below acceptable limits for herbal plants except Mn which was slightly higher than the permissible limit in the cultivated population as recommended by WHO/FAO. Furthermore, the leaf parts of the plants were found to have higher heavy metal content than the stem part except for Zn which has a higher content in the stem. Traces of Pb detected in some plant parts from both populations did not exceed permissible limit in plants. These results indicate that there is huge possibility of the accumulation of different heavy metals by Pelargonium inquinans if the cultivation is not controlled or prevented from environmentally polluted soil so as to prevent health risk. The implication of the findings on the optimum use of this plant for medicinal purposes was discussed.