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Nutrient uptake and growth of fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) on reclamation soils

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Forest land reclamation after oil sands mining requires the re-establishment of self-sustaining boreal forest ecosystems consisting of native forest plant species. This greenhouse study examined germination, growth, and nutrient uptake of fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium (L.) Holub), a circumpolar species common to the boreal forest. Fireweed was grown on a variety of reclamation soil types that varied widely in nitrogen and phosphorus contents and which were subsequently amended with different fertilizer formulations. Germination, initial root growth, and aboveground growth without fertilizer were greatest on the forest floor – mineral mix soil. With fertilization, the best fireweed growth occurred with nitrogen–phosphorus–potassium (NPK) fertilization, but with N-only or PK-only fertilization, the growth response was dependent on the soil type, indicating that site-specific fertilizer blends may be necessary for maximizing plant growth. Nutrient uptake with no fertilizer amendment was greatest in the forest floor – mineral mix soil, whereas the peat – mineral mix soil showed almost no N uptake even though it had the highest soil N supply rate. Fireweed shows great potential for use in forest reclamation as it is capable of germinating and growing on reclaimed soils and is effective in taking up nutrients from the soil, thereby promoting nutrient capture, accumulation, and likely nutrient cycling on newly reclaimed sites.

Keywords: absorption des nutriments; fireweed; forest floor – mineral mix; land reclamation; mélange de couverture morte et de sol minéral; mélange de tourbe et de sol minéral; nutrient uptake; peat – mineral mix; réhabilitation d’un terrain; épilobe en épi

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, Edmonton, AB T6H 3S5, Canada. 2: Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada.

Publication date: January 1, 2014

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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