Determination of Heavy Metal Concentrations and Their Potential Sources in Selected Plants: Xanthium strumarium L. (Asteraceae), Ficus exasperata Vahl (Moraceae), Persicaria attenuata (R.Br) Sojak (Polygonaceae), and Kanahia laniflora (Forssk.) R.Br. (Asclepiadaceae) from Awash River Basin, Ethiopia

  • Ababo Workineh Tadesse
  • Tekleweini Gereslassie
  • Xue YanEmail author
  • Jun WangEmail author


The objective of this study was to determine the concentrations, potential sources and evaluate the risks of heavy metals in selected plants from Awash River Basin, Ethiopia. A total of 57 samples were analyzed from four different plant species. Microwave-assisted digestion was applied to digest the samples and the concentration of nine elements namely: Al, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Hg, and Pb were analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP- MS) (Thermos X SERIES2). The obtained data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS IBM version 20). The recorded mean concentration of heavy metals in the plants were 1.934, 0.023, 0.023, 0.045, 0.129, ND, 0.025, ND, and 0.009 mg/kg in Xanthium strumarium L.(Asteraceae); 0.834, 0.036, 0.024, 0.021, 0.090, ND, 0.002, 0.001, and 0.006 mg/kg in Ficus exasperata Vahl (Moraceae); 1.603, 0.018, 0.019, 0.025, 0.133, 0.005, 0.006, 0.002, and 0.012 mg/kg in Persicaria attenuata (R.Br) Sojak (Polygonaceae); and 0.557, 0.010, 0.010, 0.024, 0.098, ND, 0.012, 0.020, and 0.004 mg/kg in Kanahia laniflora (Forssk.) R.Br. (Asclepiadaceae) for Al, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Hg, and Pb, respectively. Pearson’s correlation analysis indicated that there was a strong positive correlation between Al–Ni (r = 0.927**) and Zn–Cu (r = 0.764**) at α = 0.01 significant level. Principal component analysis (PCA) indicated that the sources of heavy metals in the plants were associated with anthropogenic factors. The mean concentrations of all elements except Cd in Xanthium strumarium L. (Asteraceae) and Pb in Ficus exasperata Vahl (Moraceae) were below the permissible limit of FAO/WHO (2001 /2005).


Heavy metals Concentration Medicinal plants Awash River basin Microwave digester 


Funding information

This study was supported by hundred talents program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Y329671K01) for funding the project, and funding project of Sino-Africa Joint Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Y623321K01).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Aquatic Botany and Watershed Ecology, Wuhan Botanical GardenChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.Sino-Africa Joint Research CenterChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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