Sweetpotato leaves contain biologically active anthocyanins that have significant medicinal value for certain human diseases and may also be used as natural food colorants. Foliar anthocyanins and their relative abundance were investigated in leaves of sweetpotato cultivars `Shimon-1', `Kyushu-119', and `Elegant Summer' grown under artificial shading and different temperature conditions. High-performance liquid chromatography profiles of the cultivars tested showed similar peaks but with peak areas differing with cultivar, temperature and shading. The relative quantity of individual anthocyanin was YGM (Yamagawamurashaki)-1a> YGM-4b> YGM-1b> YGM-5a> YGM-0d> YGM-0a> YGM-2> YGM-0c> YGM-3> YGM-6> YGM-5b> YGM-0b> YGM-0f> YGM-0e> YGM-0g. Seven were peonidin and eight cyanidin derivatives. The highest anthocyanin contents were found in plants grown at a moderate temperature (20 °C) with lower levels at 25 and 30 °C. The leaves of plants grown in full sun accumulated significantly more total as well as the major individual anthocyanins than plants grown in 40% and 80% shade. The results indicate that growing sweetpotatoes at moderate temperatures and without shading facilitates the accumulation of anthocyanins in the leaves. The anthocyanin composition of the leaves is discussed relative to their physiological function in human health.
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