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Environ Pollut. 2013 Dec;183:89-95. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2012.11.037. Epub 2012 Dec 23.

Holm Oak (Quercus ilex L.) canopy as interceptor of airborne trace elements and their accumulation in the litter and topsoil.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Sciences "G. Sarfatti", University of Siena, Via P.A. Mattioli, 4, Siena 53100, Italy. Electronic address:


We investigated the role of urban Holm Oak (Quercus ilex L.) trees as an airborne metal accumulators and metals' environmental fate. Analyses confirmed Pb, Cd, Cu and Zn as a main contaminants in Siena's urban environment; only Pb concentrations decreased significantly compared to earlier surveys. Additionally, we determined chemical composition of tree leaves, litter and topsoil (underneath/outside tree crown) in urban and extra-urban oak stands. Most notably, litter in urban samples collected outside the canopy had significantly lower concentrations of organic matter and higher concentrations of Pb, Cu, Cd and Zn than litter collected underneath the canopy. There was a greater metals' accumulation in topsoil, in samples collected under the tree canopy and especially near the trunk ('stemflow area'). Thus, in urban ecosystems the Holm Oak stands likely increase the soil capability to bind metals.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Airborne metals; Leaves; Leaves litter; Quercus ilex; Topsoil; Urban environment

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