The Amaryllis botanical family Amaryllidaceae

L-tyrosine-derived alkaloids are found in the Amaryllis (syn. Daffodil or Snowdrop) plant family (Amaryllidaceae Hill.), which is distributed throughout the world. This large botanical family (Table 16) comprises 50 genera and over 850 species. Lycorine has been detected in the Spider lily genus (Lycorus L.), and galanthamine in the Snowdrop genus (Galanthus L.). Galanthindole was isolated from Galanthus plicatus ssp. byzantinus115'176. Boit et al.177 reported isolating four alkaloids from Zephyranthes citrina (Baker) belonging to the Amaryllis plant family. They were galanthine, haemanthamine, lycorine and lycorenine. More recently, Herrera et al.51 also isolated oxomaritidine, mariti-dine and vittatine from this species. Oxomaritidine was reported for the first time by the authors. Alkaloids from Z. citrina (especially haemanthamine) have a clear bioimpact with inhibitory effects on the growth of HeLa cells and protein synthesis, as well as being a cytotoxic agent against MOLT 4 tumoural

Table 16 General botanical characteristics of the Amaryllis family313,316

Botanical Forms and Parts


Botanical forms Some typical genera

Special characteristics

Leaves Flowers

Fruits Seeds











A medium-sized herbs


Reduced stems

More or less linear from bulbs

On a leafless stalk from the bulb or solitary flower (rarely) Corona Bisexual

A capsule or a berry Small seeds Testa

Embryo curved cells178 179. Haemanthidine also has a powerful bioimpact as a cytotoxic agent against various human tumoural cell lines180, and galanthine has a high inhibitory capacity with ascorbic acid biosynthesis in the potato181. Maritidine exhibits antineoplastic activity182. From Pancratium sickenbergi, hippadine, tris- pheri-dine, pseudolycorine, haemanthamine, norgalanthamine, haemanthidine, vit-tatine, 11-hydroxyvittatine, pancracine, lycorine, ent-6a-6^-hydroxybuphasine and (—)-8-demethylmaritidine have been isolated183. These alkaloids have antiviral, antitumoural, analgesic and insecticidal effects183 184 185 186. Three alkaloids, lycorine, homolycorine and 2-O-acetyllycorine, were recently isolated from the bulbs of Leucojum vernum by Szlâvik et al.187 and two new alkaloids, leucover-nine and acetylleucovernine, by Forgo and Hohmann141. These alkaloids, similarly as many other new alkaloids from Amaryllidaceae, display antiviral activity. Shihunine and dihydroshihunine exist in Behria tenuiflora Greene. These alkaloids have been shown particularly to be inhibitors of Na+/K+ ATPase in the rat kidney188. Moreover, alkaloids from Crinum stuhlmannii Baker have also been reported. Machocho et al.189 detected eight alkaloids (lycorine, kirkine, 9-O-demethylpluvine, ambelline, crinine, hamayne, crinamine and amabiline) in this plant. Five alkaloids (lycorine, hamayne, vittatine, ismine and ungeremine) were isolated from Hippeastrum solandriflorum Herb190.

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