Phytotoxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons to willow trees

R.S. Thygesen, Stefan Trapp

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The toxicity of PAH to willow trees (Salix alba, S. viminalis, S. viminalisx;schwerinii) was investigated. Willow cuttings were grown in PAH-saturated hydroponic solution (naphthalene NAP, phenanthrene PHEN and benzo(a)pyrene BaP). Toxicity was related to aqueous solubility and was highest for NAP. PHEN did not show significant effects, except in one case. Exposure of trees to BaP showed no effect in two cases, but increased transpiration and growth in two others. High dosages of NAP were fatal for the trees, the lowest dosage significantly stimulated growth. Soil samples were taken from several PAH contaminated sites, among them gas works sites and a former sludge basin. The PAH contents ranged from 1.76 mg/kg to 1451 mg/kg. None of the soils was lethally toxic to the trees, and difference between growth in control soils and growth in PAH contaminated soils was not apparent. Growth and water use efficiency were positively, but not significantly correlated to the PAH content of the soils. Outdoor growth of willows and poplars on the former sludge basin in Valby was monitored, with willows growing faster than poplars (Populus trichocarpa). Phytotoxic effects could be observed at some willows at the Valby sludge basin, but it is not sure whether these effects can be contributed to PAH.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)77-82
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • phenanthrene
  • naphthalene
  • plants
  • PAH
  • willow
  • phytoremediation
  • benzo(a)pyrene
  • salix

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