BACKGROUND: Athrixia phylicoides DC. (Asteraceae) is used medicinally in South Africa to treat a plethora of ailments,
including heart problems, diabetes, diarrhoea, sores and infected wounds. It is also prepared in the form of a tea
(hot decoction) taken as a refreshing, pleasant-tasting beverage with commercialization potential.
METHODS: Extracts of the dried ground aerial parts were prepared using organic solvents (diethyl ether,
dichloromethane/methanol, ethyl acetate and ethanol) and water. These extracts were subjected to HPLC, TLC and
bioautography analysis with the aim of linking a range of peaks visualized in HPLC chromatography profiles to
antibacterial and antifungal activity of the same extracts.
RESULTS: HPLC revealed a group of compounds extracted by more than one solvent. Compounds identified include
inositol, caffeic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, apigenin, hymenoxin and oleanolic acid. The organic extracts displayed
similar TLC profiles, and bioautography indicated approximately five antibacterial compounds, but only two
antifungal compounds in these extracts. Bioautography indicated that cold water extracted the least antimicrobial
CONCLUSIONS: Several previously unknown compounds were identified in Athrixia phylicoides extracts, and
bioautography indicated a number of antibacterial and antifungal compounds. There were notable differences in
chemical composition and bioactivity between the organic and aqueous extracts. Further research is necessary to
fully characterize the active components of the extracts.