Canadian Forest Service Publications

Nutrient uptake and growth of fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) on reclamation soils. 2014. Pinno, B.D.; Landhäusser, S.M.; Chow, P.S.; Quideau, S.A.; MacKenzie, M.D. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 44(1):1-7.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35307

Language: English

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Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1139/cjfr-2013-0091

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Abstract

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 (L.) Holub), 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 nitrogen–phosphorus–potassium (NPK) fertilization, but with N-only or PK-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 soil, whereas the peat – mineral mix soil showed almost no N uptake even though it had the highest soil N supply rate. Fireweed shows great potential for use in forest reclamation as it is capable of germinating and growing on reclaimed soils and is effective in taking up nutrients from the soil, thereby promoting nutrient capture, accumulation, and likely nutrient cycling on newly reclaimed sites.

Plain Language Summary

After oil sands mining, forest land reclamation requires the re-establishment of boreal forest ecosystems consisting of native forest plant species, such as the common understory species fireweed. In this greenhouse study, fireweed germination, growth, and nutrient uptake were studied on different reclamation soil types; the soil types varied widely in nutrient contents and were fertilized with different nutrients. Initial germination and growth without fertilizer was greatest on the reclamation soil taken from natural forest soils. After fertilization, plant growth was better only on specific soil types; site specific fertilizer blends may be necessary for maximizing plant growth. Fireweed shows great potential for use in forest reclamation because 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 nutrient cycling on newly reclaimed sites.