Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 1104–1112 | Cite as

Acid-tolerant plant species screened for rehabilitating acid mine drainage sites

Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



Large areas of land have been impacted by acidic mine drainage. These sites could potentially be re-vegetated for growing energy plants. Conventional phytoremediation method may fail because the pH of some mine drainage and contaminated soils can reach 2.0. Thus, it is necessary to screen acid-tolerant plants as pioneers to rehabilitate those severely acidified areas.

Materials and methods

In the first phase of this study, seven levels of low pH media were used to estimate the acid-tolerant ranges of three plant species for 1 month. In the second phase, 50 commonly cultured plant species from 17 families, native in Guangdong Province of China or introduced from Australia, were evaluated for acid tolerance at three pH levels which were chosen based on results in the first phase.

Results and discussion

We found that Acacia auriculiformis could survive and nodulate at pH ≥2.0, Acacia confusa and Melaleuca armillaris could survive at pH ≥2.5 but A. confusa nodulate at pH >3.5. In the second phase, 12 plant species, in addition to A. auriculiformis, can survive in pH 2.0 media.


No family or genus commonality in acid tolerance was found. Two of these tolerant species, i.e., A. auriculiformis and Jatropha carcas, could potentially be planted as an economically and ecologically viable option for acid mine remediation due to their potential function as biofuel feedstock.


Acacia auriculiformis Acid mine drainage site Bioenergy plant Jatropha carcas Phytoremediation Strong acid tolerant 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangdong Province Key Laboratory of Land Use and Consolidation, State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-bioresources, Guangdong Key Laboratory for Innovative Development and Utilization of Forest Plant GermplasmSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Energy Plants Resource and Utilization, Ministry of Agriculture, Key Laboratory of Biomass Energy of Guangdong Regular Higher Education Institutions, Institute of New Energy and New MaterialsSouth China Agricultural UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.South China Botanical Garden of Chinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Energy Resources of Australia LtdDarwinAustralia
  5. 5.Environmental Futures Research Institute, School of Natural SciencesGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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