Effect of NaCl road salt on the ionic composition of soils and Aesculus hippocastanum L. foliage and leaf damage intensity

Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 5;11(1):5309. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-84541-x.


We investigated the accumulation of sodium chloride in roadside soils and common horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum L. under urban conditions to evaluate changes in soil and leaf ionic content and their relationship with foliar damage, considering the visual assessment of trees of the same health status. A total of 15 field sites were assessed in late June 2016. The analysis included soil granulometric composition, pH, electrical conductivity, and the content of Cl-, Na+, K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ ions in soil and foliage samples. The results showed increased salinity and alkalization of roadside soils together with the decreased magnesium content. Foliage samples manifested significantly higher concentrations of Na+ and Cl-. A wide range of Cl- content was noted in leaves (2.0-11.8% d.w.) regardless of their damage index. On the contrary, leaf damage was strongly correlated with increasing Na+ concentrations and decreasing K+ and Mg2+. A severe imbalance of nutrients, and therefore poor urban tree vitality, can be attributed to the excessive accumulation of de-icing salt. However, further research would be needed to clarify the discrepancy between the extent of leaf damage and chloride content.