Title : How much can some wild plant species accumulate chemical elements and why is this important to us?
During 2014, the wild plant species were collected along the railways in northwestern Croatia. In habitats with different management types (under more or less influence of railway traffic), the seven most common herbaceous species were selected: Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., Equisetum arvense L., Erigeron annuus (L.) Desf., Lepidium sp., Solidago gigantea Aiton, Taraxacum officinale agg. and Urtica dioica L. Total concentrations of 25 elements were determined in collected plants using a high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (HR-ICP-MS). The results showed that most (19) elements in the highest total mass concentrations were assimilated by Ambrosia artemisiifolia (mg/kg dry weight, average values): Ag 0.036, Al 1099, As 0.96, Cd 0.30, Co 0.67, Cr 22.9, Cu 19.7, Fe 3680, Li 1.24, Mn 57.1, Ni 9.06, Pb 4.05, Sb 0.62, Sn 1.17, Sr 63.0, Ti 75.9, U 0.11, V 2.96, and Zn 108; followed by Equisetum arvense with the highest values for four elements: Bi 0.04, Cs 0.45, Mo 14.3, and Rb 48.6; Solidago gigantea for Tl 0.038, and Lepidium sp. for Ba 37.4. The obtained values indicate the possibility of using ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) in the phytoremediation and/or phytomining of certain chemical elements, some of which are pollutants in the soil and can be extracted from the soil by plants. However, the problem is that ragweed is a foreign invasive species in Europe that has multiple negative effects: it suppresses indigenous flora, is a very aggressive weed on agricultural land, and has a very negative effect on human health because its pollen causes allergies. One possible solution is to sow and grow this annual species under strictly controlled conditions, by removing the adult plants before they start to bloom and create pollen and later seeds.