Keywords: heavy metals, irrigation, plants, toxicity, wastewater
Irrigation of certain Mediterranean plants with heavy metals
The ability of some Mediterranean plant species to absorb heavy metals present in wastewater from treatment plants is researched. Their tolerance to high concentrations of heavy metals is also assessed. Myoporum sp., Nerium oleander and Geranium sp. were irrigated with wastewater, normal irrigation water, and irrigation water enriched with metals. The concentration of metals in the wastewater, irrigation water, in the soil, and in the leaves, tissues and roots of the plants were measured. The results show that treatment of plants with wastewater gives slightly increased concentrations of metals in leaves and roots. In contrast, irrigation with high concentrations of Cu2+, Mn2+ and Zn2+ (up to 1000 mg/1) resulted to significantly higher concentrations of these metals in the roots than in the leaves. However, all plants have been shown to tolerate high concentrations of heavy metals except Nerium oleander, which exhibited strong toxicity in leaves. The tolerance of these Mediterranean plant species to polluted environments allows them to be irrigated by wastewater from treatment plants, so as to achieve the best environmental rehabilitation of desertified Mediterranean areas.