Trace elements in Plantago lanceolata L., a plant used for herbal and food preparations: new data and literature review

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Jan;26(3):2305-2313. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-3740-1. Epub 2018 Nov 21.


Plantago lanceolata L. is a common grassland and roadside plant, widely used in many countries in food and herbal preparations. In this study, samples of this wild plant were collected from rural, suburban/urban, and industrial environments; the concentrations of As, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, P, Pb, V, and Zn were measured in the edible parts of the plant (leaves), in the roots, and in the soils in order to calculate the bioaccumulation and translocation factors. The data obtained were compared with literature data available. Except for samples collected near mines and smelting plants, where Cd, Pb, and Zn concentrations were up to 15 times higher, in all other cases, no differences were observed with respect to samples from rural areas, except for Pb concentration, which was 3 times higher in urban areas. In the samples collected in our study area, the metal content does not pose particular health risks; however, even within a quite restricted region like the investigated area, high metal concentrations, possibly due to the presence of particular substrates, were observed in some samples collected from areas considered "clean" and suitable for wild food plant gathering.

Keywords: Bioaccumulation factor; Edible plant; Ribwort plantain; Translocation factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Italy
  • Metals / analysis*
  • Mining
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Roots / chemistry
  • Plantago / chemistry*
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*
  • Trace Elements / analysis


  • Metals
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Trace Elements