Phytoremediation potential of native herbaceous plant species growing on a paradigmatic brownfield site.
Phytomanagement techniques using native species allow the recovery of contaminated soils at low cost and circumvent the ecological risks associated with the use of non-native species. In this context, a paradigmatic brownfield megasite highly contaminated by As and Pb was sampled in order to analyze soil-plant interactions and identify plant species with phytoremediation potential. A survey was first carried out in a 20-ha area to obtain an inventory of species growing spontaneously throughout the site. We then performed another survey in the most polluted sub-area (1 ha) within the site. Pseudototal concentrations of contaminants in the soil, aerial parts of the plants, and roots were measured by ICP-MS. A detailed habitat classification was done, and a specific index of coverage was applied by means of a 1-year quadrat study in various sampling stations. Results converged in the selection of six herbaceous species (Dysphania botrys, Lotus corniculatus, Lotus hispidus, Plantago lanceolata, Trifolium repens, Medicago lupulina). All of these plants are fast-growing, thereby making them suitable for use in phytostabilization strategies. Furthermore, they are all easy to grow and propagate and are generally self-sustaining. All six plants showed accumulation factors below 1, thus revealing them as pseudomethallophytes and excluders. However, L. hispidus and M. lupulina showed translocation capacity and are considered worthy of further study.