New Forests

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 731–750 | Cite as

The influence of soil conditions, with focus on soil acidity, on the establishment of poplar (Populus spp.)

  • Karin HjelmEmail author
  • Lars Rytter


The interest for fast growing poplar species has increased, but the establishment on forest soils can be disappointing. One explanation could be low pH-levels. Thus, the main purpose of this study was to test the development of available poplar clones on soils with different soil acidity. The study was divided into two parts. In study A, poplar cuttings were planted in peat soil with pH-levels ranging from 3.4 to 5.7. In study B, the same plant material was planted in forest soils collected from different sites with different pH levels. Both studies were carried out in a greenhouse. Soil acidity had a significant effect on plant development. With increasing pH, height and biomass of the poplar clones increased. A difference in allocation between root and aboveground biomass was seen among treatments with more biomass directed above ground at higher pH. This pattern was more pronounced with increasing plant weight. Less Al and more Ca were found in leaves from plants grown in soils with higher pH, but P was low overall in the forest soil. Results from this study show that low pH-values can hamper the establishment of poplar. The availability of Ca, P and Al is also of importance, since they could counteract or increase the adverse effects of low pH-levels.


Cuttings Forest soils Nutrients pH Plant growth Short rotation forestry 



This experiment was jointly supported by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA, from the foundation Stiftelsen Erik och Ellen Sökjer-Petersens stipendiefond), the Swedish Energy Agency and the frame program of the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk). We also want to thank Eva Persson, Mihály Czimbalmos, Vera Rytter, Lars Wremert and Johan Karlsson for their careful and patient work with measurements, management and processing of plants and soil in the experiment. We would also like to thank Professor Lee Allen, two anonymous reviewers and the associate editor for their valuable comments and improvements on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk)SvalövSweden

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