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Nutrient uptake and growth of fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) on reclamation soils.

Pinno, B., S. Landhausser, P. Chow, S. Quideau and D. MacKenzie. 2013. Canadian Journal of Forest Research


Forest land reclamation after oil sands mining requires the re-establishment of self-sustaining boreal forest ecosystems consisting of native forest plant species. This greenhouse study examined germination, growth and nutrient uptake of fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), a circumpolar species common to the boreal forest. Fireweed was grown on a variety of reclamation soil types that varied widely in nitrogen and phosphorus contents and which were subsequently amended with different fertilizer formulations. Germination, initial root growth and aboveground growth without fertilizer were greatest on the forest floor mineral mix soil. With fertilization, the best fireweed growth occurred with NPK fertilization, but with N P K only fertilization the growth response was dependent on the soil type indicating that site specific fertilizer blends may be necessary for maximizing plant growth. Nutrient uptake with no fertilizer amendment was greatest in the forest floor mineral mix while the peat mineral mix showed almost no nitrogen uptake even though it had the highest soil N supply rate. Fireweed shows great potential for use in forest reclamation since it is capable of germinating and growing on reclaimed soils and is effective at taking up nutrients from the soil thereby promoting nutrient capture, accumulation and likely nutrient cycling on newly reclaimed sites.

Key Words

land reclamation, fireweed, forest floor - mineral mix, peat - mineral mix, nutrient uptake