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Keywords:

  • legumes;
  • metal-tolerant species;
  • mine tailings;
  • phytostabilization

Restoration of metalliferous mine soils requires using plant species tolerant to high metal concentrations and adapted to nutrient-poor soil. Legumes can increase plant productivity through N2-fixation, but they are often scarce in metalliferous sites. We examined survival, growth, and tolerance of four populations of a legume, Anthyllis vulneraria, from two metalliferous (MET) Zn-Pb mine sites, Avinières (AV) ([Zn-EDTA] = 26,000 mg/kg) and Eylie (EY) ([Zn-EDTA] = 4,632 mg/kg), and two non-metalliferous (NMET) sites located in the south of France with the aim to select the most appropriate populations for restoration of mined soils. In a common garden experiment, plants from each population were reciprocally grown in soil from the provenance of each population. The two NMET populations exhibited high mortality and low growth rates in soil from the mined sites. The AV MET exhibited a high growth rate in metalliferous soils, but showed high mortality in non-metalliferous soils. The growth of the EY MET was very low in the AV-contaminated soil, but was the highest of all populations in moderately and non-metalliferous soils. Plants from the AV MET population showed a high growth and survival in metalliferous soil and would be appropriate in the restoration of metal-contaminated sites (>30,000 mg Zn kg−1). The EY MET population would be adapted to the restoration of moderate metal-contaminated soils (<30,000 mg Zn kg−1). Taking into account the broad distribution of A. vulneraria, these two populations could be suitable for the restoration of derelict mine sites in mediterranean and temperate regions of Europe and North America.