Article

Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 79, Issue 4, pp 371-376

Toxicity of Metal Elements on Germination and Seedling Growth of Widely Used Medicinal Plants Belonging to Hyacinthaceae

  • R. A. StreetAffiliated withResearch Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg Email author 
  • , M. G. KulkarniAffiliated withResearch Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg
  • , W. A. StirkAffiliated withResearch Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg
  • , C. SouthwayAffiliated withSchool of Chemistry, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg
  • , J. Van StadenAffiliated withResearch Centre for Plant Growth and Development, School of Biological and Conservation Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg

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Abstract

In South Africa, pollution of agricultural soils is on the increase primarily due to excessive application of fertilizers, sewage disposal and mining activities. This study was done to determine the effect of trace elements (Cu, Zn) and heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Hg) on germination and seedling development of Bowiea volubilis, Eucomis autumnalis and Merwilla natalensis. These medicinal plant species are highly recommended for cultivation in South Africa to reduce the pressure on wild populations. Copper and Zn at 1 mg L−1 significantly (p < 0.05) reduced the percentage germination of E. autumnalis. Low concentrations (≥1 mg L−1) of Cu and Zn negatively affected the roots of all three species. Mercury concentrations of 0.5 and 1 mg L−1 significantly (p < 0.05) decreased the percentage germination of B. volubilis and E. autumnalis respectively. Cadmium and Hg at 2 mg L−1 showed a detrimental effect on the root growth of B. volubilis. Concentrations of 0.5 mg L−1 of all heavy metals tested significantly (p < 0.05) decreased shoot length of M. natalensis.

Keywords

Metal elements Medicinal plants Seed germination Seedling growth