Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 169–177 | Cite as

Arsenic accumulation by ferns: a field survey in southern China

  • Chao-Yang Wei
  • Cheng Wang
  • Xin Sun
  • Wu-Yi Wang
Original Paper


The objective of this study reported here was to characterize arsenic (As) accumulation by Pteris ferns by comparing 3 of the ferns of this genus with each other as well as with four non-Pteris ferns growing on seven sites in southern China with different As levels. A total of 112 samples, including 78 Pteris vittata, 13 P. cretica, 3 P. multifida and 18 ferns from other non-Pteris genera, with the soils in which they grew were collected for As and other elemental analyses. P. vittata was found to be the most dominant species and the most efficient As-accumulator, whereas P. multifida was the lowest As-accumulator among the Pteris ferns, with 4.54–3599, 28.7–757 and 11.2–341 mg kg–1 As recorded in the fronds of P. vittata, P. cretica and P. multifida, respectively. Arsenic concentrations in non-Pteris ferns were generally much lower than those in Pteris ferns, with 0.81–1.32, 3.59, 10.7, 6.17–24.3 mg kg–1 in the fronds of Blechumum orientale, Dicranopteris dichotoma, Pteridium aquilinum and Cyclosorus acuminatus, respectively. For P. vittata, the As bioaccumulation factor (ratio of As in fronds to that in soils) changed, whereas the As translocation factor (ratio of As in fronds to that in roots) remained unchanged among the different sites. The concentrations of Fe were very high in all of the collected fern sample, with the exception of B.␣orientale, with 207–6865, 637–3369, 375–1856, 1876, 493-6865 and 492 mg kg–1 in the fronds of P. vittata, P. cretica, P. multifida, C. acuminatus, P. aquilinum and D. dichotoma, respectively. The association between Fe accumulation and As accumulation and tolerance in these ferns indicates the unique role of Fe in As-hyperaccumulation.


Accumulation Arsenic Hyperaccumulator Iron pH soil 


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This study was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 40271099, 20477045), the Renovation Project of the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. CXIOG-C04-02), and the National Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (Grant No. 40325003). CY Wei thanks Prof. L Shi and XC Zhang from the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences for their kind advice on fern sampling and help with fern identification.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chao-Yang Wei
    • 1
  • Cheng Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xin Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wu-Yi Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences BeijingChina
  2. 2.Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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