Trace metal uptake by native plants growing on a brownfield in France: zinc accumulation by Tussilago farfara L.

  • Laura WechtlerEmail author
  • Philippe Laval-Gilly
  • Olivier Bianconi
  • Louise Walderdorff
  • Antoine Bonnefoy
  • Jaïro Falla-Angel
  • Sonia Henry
Short Research and Discussion Article


Several human activities such as mining, smelting, or transportations lead to trace metal pollution in soil. The presence of these pollutants can represent environmental and organism health risks. Phytoextraction can be used to remediate trace metal–contaminated soils. It uses the plants’ ability to remove trace metals from soil and to accumulate them in their shoots, which can then be harvested. We studied the spontaneous vegetation growing on a brownfield located in France. The use of native plants is interesting since spontaneous vegetation is already well adapted to the site’s environmental conditions leading to a better survival and growth than non-native plants. Ten native plant species were sampled, and the Cr, Cu, Cd, Ni, Pb, and Zn concentrations present in their shoots were measured. In order to determine the plant’s capacity to extract trace metals from the soil, the bioconcentration factor (BCF) was calculated for each plant and trace metal. Plants with a BCF greater than 1 are able to accumulate trace metals in their shoots and could be a good candidate to be used in phytoextraction. Results underscored one new accumulator plant for Zn, Tussilago farfara L., with a BCF value of 3.069. No hyperaccumulator was found among the other sampled plants. Our preliminary study showed that T. farfara is able to accumulate zinc in its shoots. Moreover, this native plant is a pioneer species able to quickly colonize various habitats by vegetative multiplication. That is why T. farfara  L. could be interesting for zinc phytoextraction and could be worth further studies.


Plant accumulation Trace metals Brownfields Phytoextraction Native plants Tussilago farfara L. 



We gratefully thank Marine Sauton, Pascale Sauton, and Seanna Campista (San Jose, California) for their English revision. We would like to thank Romain Goudon for performing ICP analyses.

Funding information

The authors would like to thank Communauté d’Agglomérations du Val de Fensch, Portes de France-Thionville, Ville de Thionville, Syndicat intercommunal de Curage de Cattenom et environs, and Communauté de Communes Cattenom et Environs for their financial supports.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Wechtler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philippe Laval-Gilly
    • 1
  • Olivier Bianconi
    • 2
  • Louise Walderdorff
    • 1
  • Antoine Bonnefoy
    • 3
  • Jaïro Falla-Angel
    • 1
  • Sonia Henry
    • 1
  1. 1.Université de Lorraine, INRA, LSENancyFrance
  2. 2.Communauté d’Agglomération du Val de FenschHayangeFrance
  3. 3.Université de Lorraine, IUT de Thionville-YutzYutzFrance

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