Xiao-Hua Yang，Hua-Feng Zhang（corresponding author），Li-Li Niu，Ying Wang，Jiang-Hua Lai．Contents of heavy metals in Chinese edible herbs: Evidence from a case study of Epimedii Folium[J]．Biological Trace Element Research，2017，DOI: 10.1007/s12011-017-1075-2
Toxic heavy metal contamination in Chinese edible herbs has raised a worldwide concern. In this study, heavy metals in Epimedii Folium, an edible medicinal plant in China, were quantitatively analyzed. Variations of heavy metals in different species, in various organs (i.e. leaves, stems and roots), in wild-growing and cultivated plants, and in 35 market samples of Epimedii Folium were systematically investigated. In all of Epimedium samples, Hg (mercury) was not detectable (0.00 μg/g). Four species, Epimedium pubescens, Epimedium sagittatum, Epimedium brevicornu and Epimedium wushanense, were found to contain Cu (copper) and Pb (lead). And contents of Cu and Pb in E. brevicornu were significantly higher than those in other species (P< 0.01). In wild-growing and cultivated Epimedium plants, Cd (cadmium) and As (arsenic) were not detectable, and concentrations of Cu and Pb in wild-growing plants were significantly higher than those in cultivated plants (P< 0.01). Cd was not detectable in leaves, roots and stems, while organ specificity was apparent in the distribution of Cu, As and Pb. And the highest levels of Cu and Pb were observed in roots and leaves, respectively. In Chinese markets, several samples of Epimedii Folium contained excessive Cu, Cd, As and Pb beyond the national permissible limits. In summary, there was a large variation of heavy metals among Epimedii Folium samples, and Cu and Pb were the most important heavy metals contaminating the edible medicinal plant. Application of Epimedii Folium to drug and food industries will need to focus more on toxic heavy metal contamination.