Tannins are secondary metabolites that may influence feeding by mammals on plants. We analyzed hydrolyzable and condensed tannins in 30 plant species consumed by livestock and deer, as a preliminary attempt to study their possible implications on browsing and grazing in forest ecosystems. Heathers (Ericaceae) and plants of the Rose (Rosaceae) family had tannins, while forbs, grasses and shrubs other than the heathers did not show astringency properties. We found the highest tannin content of all the species in Rubus sp., with the highest value around 180 mg TAE/g dry weight in spring. Potentilla erecta, Alnus glutinosa and Quercus robur were next with 57 to 44 mg TAE/g dw. Total tannins in heathers ranged from 22 to 36 mg TAE/g dw. Levels of condensed tannins were higher than hydrolyzable for most of the species. Only Betula alba, Calluna vulgaris, Pteridium aquilinum and Vaccinium myrtillus had 100% hydrolyzable tannins. Tannin content of the species changed seasonally with highest values during the growing season, corresponding to late winter or early spring, depending on the species.
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Research observation: Hydrolyzable and condensed tannins in plants of northwest Spain forests