Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 223, Issue 2, pp 847–862 | Cite as

Foliar Damage, Ion Content, and Mortality Rate of Five Common Roadside Tree Species Treated with Soil Applications of Magnesium Chloride

  • Betsy A. GoodrichEmail author
  • William R. Jacobi


Sensitivity to magnesium chloride (MgCl2) was assessed on five common roadside tree species by maintaining soil concentrations at 0-, 400-, 800-, or 1,600-ppm chloride via MgCl2 solution over four growing seasons. Evaluations of growth, leaf retention, foliar damage, and ion concentrations were conducted. Water potentials were measured on two species. Foliar chloride and magnesium concentrations were positively correlated with foliar damage in all species. Conifers exhibited mild damage during the first growing season but moderate to severe damage during the first winter and second growing season. The two highest MgCl2 treatments caused leaf loss, severe damage, or mortality of Douglas-fir, lodgepole, and ponderosa pines after two seasons of treatments and of limber pine after four seasons. Aspen also displayed foliar damage and crown loss but abscised damaged leaves and flushed asymptomatic leaves throughout the growing seasons. The highest treatment caused mortality of aspen in 4 years. Approximately 13,000–17,000-ppm foliar chloride was associated with severe damage in conifers but ranged from 13,000- to 33,000-ppm in fully necrotic leaves. Aspen foliage contained the highest concentrations of chloride (24,000–36,000-ppm), and limber pine leaves had the lowest (<14,200-ppm). Although MgCl2 caused reductions in leaf water potential, aspen and ponderosa pine did not appear to be under substantial moisture stress and continued to take up ions. Mortality of common roadside tree species in 2 to 4 years can occur due to high MgCl2 soil concentrations, and transportation officials should consider these implications in their management plans.


Foliar ion concentrations Moisture stress Salt stress Road salt Dust control Salinity 



This research was primarily funded by the Larimer County Road and Bridge Department and through the John Z. Duling Grant from The Research & Education Endowment (TREE) Fund (formerly the International Society of Arboriculture Memorial Research Trust). The Colorado Association of Road and Bridge Engineers (CARSE) and the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station also provided assistance. We thank Dale L. Miller of Larimer County Road and Bridge Department for project support. We thank Jim Zumbrunnen, Center for Applied Statistical Expertise at Colorado State University for statistical consultation. Thanks to Ronda Koski, Jennifer Klutsch, Jim Morrow, Sadie Skiles, Katharine Slota, and Angela Hill for assisting in tree planting, MgCl2 treatments, and tree measurements for this study. We appreciate the careful and helpful reviews from Dr. James Worrall, USFS; Dr. Cecil Stushnoff, CSU; and Dr. Howard Schwartz, CSU on an earlier version of this manuscript.


  1. Addo, J.Q., Chenard, M., & Sanders, T.G. (2004). Road dust suppression: Effect on maintenance, stability, safety and the environment (phases 1–3). Mountain Plains Consortium, Report Number: MPC-04-156, 64 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Al-Habsi, S., & Percival, G. C. (2006). Sucrose-induced tolerance to and recovery from deicing salt damage in containerized Ilex aquifolium L. and Quercus robur L. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry, 32(6), 277–285.Google Scholar
  3. Al-Yassin, A. (2004). Influence of salinity on citrus: A review paper. Journal of Central European Agriculture, 5(4), 263–272.Google Scholar
  4. AOAC (Association of Official Analytical Chemists) International. (1990). Official Methods of Analysis of AOAC International (15th ed.). Arlington: AOAC International.Google Scholar
  5. Bedunah, D., & Trlica, M. J. (1979). Sodium chloride effects on carbon dioxide exchange rates and other plant and soil variables of ponderosa pine. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 9, 349–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berkheimer, S. F., & Hanson, E. (2006). Deicing salts reduce cold hardiness and increase flower bud mortality of highbush blueberry. J Amer Soc Hort Sci, 131(1), 11–16.Google Scholar
  7. Bernstein, L. (1975). Effects of salinity and sodicity on plant growth. Annual Review of Phytopathology, 13, 295–312.Google Scholar
  8. Chen, S., Li, J., Wang, S., Huttermann, A., & Alman, A. (2001). Salt, nutrient uptake and transport, and ABA of Populus euphratica; a hybrid in response to increasing soil NaCl. Trees, 15, 186–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Czerniawska-Kusza, I., Kusza, G., & Duzynski, M. (2004). Effect of deicing salts on urban soils and health status of roadside trees in the Opole region. Environmental Toxicology, 19, 296–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dobson, M. C. (1991). De-icing salt damage to trees and shrubs. Forestry Commission Bulletin, 101, 1–64.Google Scholar
  11. Flowers, T. J., & Yeo, A. R. (1986). Ion relations of plants under drought and salinity. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology, 13, 75–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goodrich, B. A., Koski, R. D., & Jacobi, W. R. (2009). Condition of soils and vegetation along roads treated with magnesium chloride for dust suppression. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 195, 165–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greenway, H., & Munns, R. (1980). Mechanisms of salt tolerance in nonhalophytes. Annual Review of Plant Physiology, 31, 149–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grieve, C. M., & Shannon, M. C. (1999). Ion accumulation and distribution in shoot components of salt-stressed Eucalyptus clones. J Amer Soc Hort Sci, 124, 559–563.Google Scholar
  15. Guyon, J. C., Jacobi, W. R., & McIntyre, G. A. (1996). Effects of environmental stress on the development of Cytospora canker of aspen. Plant Disease, 80, 1320–1326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hagle, S.K. (2002). An assessment of chloride-associated, and other roadside tree damage, on the Selway Road, Nez Perce National Forest. Forest Health Protection Report 02-7. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region, 18 pp.Google Scholar
  17. Hall, R., Hofstra, G., & Lumis, G. P. (1972). Effects of deicing salt on eastern white pine: Foliar injury, growth suppression and seasonal changes in foliar concentrations of sodium and chloride. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 2, 244–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hall, R., Hofstra, G., & Lumis, G. P. (1973). Leaf necrosis of roadside sugar maple in Ontario in relation to elemental composition of soil and leaves. Phytopathology, 63, 1426–1427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hofstra, G., & Hall, R. (1971). Injury on roadside trees: leaf injury on pine and white cedar in relation to foliar concentrations of sodium and chloride. Canadian Journal of Botany, 49, 613–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hofstra, G., Hall, R., & Lumis, G. P. (1979). Studies of salt-induced damage to roadside plants in Ontario. Journal of Arboriculture, 5, 25–31.Google Scholar
  21. Hogg, E. H., Saugier, B., Pontailler, J.-Y., Black, T. A., Chen, W., Hurdle, P. A., et al. (2000). Responses of trembling aspen and hazelnut to vapor pressure deficit in a boreal deciduous forest. Tree Physiology, 20, 725–734.Google Scholar
  22. Jacobi, W.R., Goodrich, B.A. & Koski, R.D. (2009). Environmental effects of magnesium chloride-based dust suppression products on roadside soils, vegetation and stream water chemistry. Colorado State University Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Report TR09-04. 184 pp.Google Scholar
  23. Kayama, M., Quoreshi, A. M., Kitaoka, S., Kitahashi, Y., Sakamoto, Y., Maruyama, Y., et al. (2003). Effects of deicing salt on the vitality and health of two spruce species, Picea abies (Karst.), and Picea glehnii (Masters) planted along roadsides in northern Japan. Environmental Pollution, 124, 127–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Maas, E. V. (1986). Salt tolerance of plants. Applied Agricultural Research, 1, 12.Google Scholar
  25. Marschner, H. (1995). Mineral nutrition of higher plants (2nd ed., 889 pp.). London.Google Scholar
  26. Marschner, H. (2002). Mineral nutrition of higher plants (2nd ed., p. 889). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  27. Mengel, K. (2002). Alternative or complementary role of foliar supply in mineral nutrition. Acta Horticult, 594, 33–47.Google Scholar
  28. Munck, I. A., Bennet, C. M., Camilli, K. S., & Nowak, R. S. (2010). Long-term impact of de-icing salts on tree health in the Lake Tahoe Basin: Environmental influences and interactions with insects and diseases. Forest Ecology and Management, 260, 1218–1229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Munns, R. (2002). Comparative physiology of salt and water stress. Plant, Cell & Environment, 25, 239–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Percival, G. C., Boyle, C., & Baird, L. (1999). The influence of calcium supplementation on the freezing tolerance of woody plants. Journal of Arboriculture, 25, 285–291.Google Scholar
  31. Piechota, T., van Ea, J., Batista, J., Stave, K., & James, D. (Eds.) (2004). United States Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 600/R-04/031. Potential environmental impacts of dust suppressants: Avoiding another times beach. An Expert Panel Summary, Las Vegas, NV. May 30–31, 2002. 79 pp.Google Scholar
  32. Raveh, E., & Levy, Y. (2005). Analysis of xylem water as an indicator of current chloride uptake status in citrus tree. Scientia Horticulturae, 103, 317–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rengel, Z. (1992). The role of calcium in salt toxicity. Plant, Cell & Environment, 15, 625–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Romero-Aranda, R., Moya, J. L., Tadeo, F. R., Legaz, F., Primo-Millo, E., & Talon, M. (1988). Physiological and anatomical disturbances induced by chloride salts in sensitive and tolerant citrus: Beneficial and detrimental effects of cations. Plant, Cell & Environment, 21, 1243–1253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sanders, T. G., Addo, J. Q., Ariniello, A., & Heiden, W. F. (1997). Relative effectiveness of road dust suppressants. Journal of Transportation Engineering, 123, 393–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Silva, C., Martinez, V., & Carvajal, M. (2008). Osmotic versus toxic effects of NaCl on pepper plants. Biologia Plantarum, 52, 72–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Smith, W. K. (1980). Importance of aerodynamic resistance to water use efficiency in three conifers under field conditions. Plant Physiology, 65, 132–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. St. Clair, S. B., John Guyon, J., & Donaldson, J. (2010). Quaking aspen’s current and future status in western North America: The role of succession, climate, biotic agents and its clonal nature. In U. Luttge et al. (Eds.), Progress in botany 71(5) (pp. 371–400). Berlin: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-02167-1_14.Google Scholar
  39. Sucoffe, E., Hong, S. G., & Wood, A. (1976). NaCl and twig dieback along highways and cold hardiness of highway versus garden twigs. Canadian Journal of Botany, 54, 2268–2274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Syversten, J. P., Lloyd, J., & Kriedmann, P. E. (1988). Salinity and drought stress effects on foliar ion concentration, water relations, and photosynthetic characteristics of orchard citrus. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 39, 619–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Teakle, N. L., & Tyerman, S. D. (2010). Mechanisms of Cl− transport contributing to salt tolerance. Plant, Cell & Environment, 33, 566–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Termaat, A., & Munns, R. (1986). Use of concentrated macronutrient solutions to separate osmotic from NaCl-specific effects on plant growth. Australian Journal of Plant Physiology, 13, 509–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tester, M., & Davenport, R. (2003). Na+ tolerance and Na+ transport in higher plants. Annals of Botany, 91, 503–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tobe, K., Xiamong, L., & Omasa, K. (2002). Effects of sodium, magnesium and calcium salts on seed germination and radicle survival of a halophyte, Kalidium capsicum (Chenopodiaceae). Australian Journal of Botany, 50, 163–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Trahan, N.A. & Peterson, C.M. (2007). Factors impacting the health of roadside vegetation. Colorado Department of Transportation Research Branch Final Report No. CDOT-DTD-R-2005-12. 264 pp.Google Scholar
  46. Viskari, E.-L., & Karenlampi, L. (2000). Roadside Scots pine as an indicator of deicing salt use—a comparative study from two consecutive winters. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 122, 406–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Volkmar, K. M., Hu, Y., & Steppuhn, H. (1998). Physiological responses of plants to salinity. A review. Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 78, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Westing, A. H. (1969). Plants and salt in the roadside environment. Phytopathology, 59, 1174–1181.Google Scholar
  49. White, P. J., & Broadley, M. R. (2001). Chloride in soils and its uptake and movement within the plant: A review. Annals of Botany, 88, 967–988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yokoi, S., Bressnan R.A., & Hasegawa, P.M. (2002). Salt stress tolerance in plants. Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences Working Report, 2002, pp. 25–33.Google Scholar
  51. Ziska, L. H., Dejong, T. M., Hoffman, G. F., & Mead, R. M. (1991). Sodium and chloride distribution in salt-stressed Prunus salicina, a deciduous tree species. Tree Physiology, 8, 47–57.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ForestryNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  2. 2.Department of Bioagricultural Sciences & PestManagement, Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

Personalised recommendations