(103) Screening Landscape Plants for Their Ability to Accumulate Nitrogen and Phosphorus

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  • 1 1Clemson University, Horticulture, Clemson, SC, 29634-0319
  • | 2 2Clemson University, Clemson Institute of Environmental Toxicology and Biological Sciences, Pendleton, SC, 29670-0709
  • | 3 3Clemson University, Applied Economics and Statistics, Clemson, SC, 29634-0367

Commercial nurseries use large amounts of water and nutrients during production cycles. Runoff contaminated with N and P can adversely impact surface and groundwater quality. A 3-year monitoring study of nutrient mitigation by a constructed wetland at a container nursery found nitrogen removal was highly efficient. However, orthophosphate-P removal was highly variable. Partial removal occurred during some months, but net export also occurred. P levels in wetland discharge—between 0.84 and 2.75 ppm—were well above the generally accepted level for preventing downstream eutrophication. Therefore, identifying landscape plants that remediate nutrients, especially P, could be useful in improving constructed wetlands. A 2003 greenhouse study screened commercially available landscape plants for their phytoremediation potential. Among the 17 taxa and 19 cultivars examined were woody shrubs, e.g., Cornusamomum, Myricacerifera`Emperor', and Salix integra `Hakura Nishiki'; herbaceous semiaquatics, e.g., Canna(two cultivars), Colocasia esculenta `Illustris', Rhyncospora colorata, Iris`Full Eclipse', Pontederia cordata `Singapore Pink', and Thalia geniculata `Red Stem'; and floating aquatics, e.g., Myriophyllum aquaticum, Eichhornia crassipes, and Pistia stratiotes. Plants were grown in pea gravel media and kept saturated with one of five concentrations of Hoagland's. Herbaceous and woody plants were harvested after 8 and 13 weeks, respectively. Experiments were replicated twice for each cultivar. The nutrient uptake efficiency was determined for each taxon from the total amount of N and P applied and the biomass dry weight and N and P content.

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