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Distribution of micro- (Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn) and risk (Al, As, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Cd) elements in the organs of Rumex alpinus L. in the Alps and Krkonoše Mountains


Background and aims

Rumex alpinus is a native plant in the mountains of Europe whose distribution has partly been affected by its utilization as a vegetable and medicinal herb. The distribution of micro and risk elements in its organs is not well-known. The study examined the safety of consuming R. alpinus from the Krkonoše Mountains, the Czech Republic, and the Alps (Austria and Italy).


We determined the total and plant-available content of Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Al, As, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Cd in the soil and the total content in organs of R. alpinus.


The uptake and distribution of elements by plants were characterized by bioaccumulation (BF) and translocation (TF) factors. The level of elements accumulation by R. alpinus is considerably different, depending on local geological substrates and environmental conditions. Rumex alpinus has considerable tolerance to Zn, Cu, As, Cr, Ni, with an easy accumulation strategy. High Al and Cd content in belowground biomass (rhizome) indicate a defensive mechanism for them. Although the aboveground biomass (emerging, senescent, mature leaves, petiole) has some degree of accumulation of risk elements, the results showed that R. alpinus is an excluder.


Rumex alpinus does not accumulate risk elements in organs (leaf and petiole) that are consumed based on the permissible limit according to World Health Organization (2001) and can therefore be used without concern. Caution must, therefore, be taken when consuming these plant parts in heavily contaminated soils.

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This work received funding from the Internal Grant Agency (IGA) of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague under grant agreement No 20184218.

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Correspondence to Michaela Jungová.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest whatsoever.

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Jungová, M., Asare, M.O., Jurasová, V. et al. Distribution of micro- (Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn) and risk (Al, As, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Cd) elements in the organs of Rumex alpinus L. in the Alps and Krkonoše Mountains. Plant Soil (2022).

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  • Rumex alpinus weed
  • Above/belowground biomass
  • Bioaccumulation/Translocation factors
  • Excluder
  • Micro/risk element