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Accumulation of trace elements in Tussilago farfara colonizing post-flotation tailing sites in Serbia


The purpose of this study was to examine the accumulation potential of spontaneously developed Tussilago farfara populations colonizing sites with different levels of anthropogenic pollution. Physical characteristics of the soil are presented, together with the concentrations of macroelements and microelements (Ca, Mg, Fe, S, Al, Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd, Mn, As, Sb, Ag, Ti, and Sr) in both soil and plants. The biological concentration, accumulation, and translocation factors were used to assess the potential for heavy metal accumulation. Considerable differences were found among assessions from unevenly contaminated habitats, particularly in comparison with an unpolluted site. In line with the ore’s characteristics, substrate samples from polluted sites were heavily contaminated with Pb, Zn, As, and Sb. Increased levels of microelements were also detected in plant samples from flotation tailings. Despite active absorption of Zn, Cu, Cd, Mn, and Sr by the plants from mining sites, the detected quantities of these elements in all samples were below the hyperaccumulation threshold. However, the obtained results indicate that the use of T. farfara from such sites in traditional medicine could pose a risk to human health due to accumulation of several toxic elements in the plant’s aboveground tissues. Additionally, as a successful primary colonizer and stabilizer of technogenic substrates, T. farfara has an important role in the initial phases of revegetation of highly contaminated sites.

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We would like to thank Mr. Raymond Dooley for the linguistic editing.


The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia supported this research through grants 173030, 176016, and 172019.

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Correspondence to Ksenija Jakovljević.

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Jakovljević, K., Mišljenović, T., Savović, J. et al. Accumulation of trace elements in Tussilago farfara colonizing post-flotation tailing sites in Serbia. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 4089–4103 (2020).

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  • Medicinal plant
  • Heavy metal
  • Mine tailings
  • Contaminated soil
  • Phytoremediation