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Assessment of plant diversity and foliar chemistry on the Sri Lankan ultramafics reveals inconsistencies in the metal hyperaccumulator trait

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posted on 2022-05-17, 04:33 authored by Denise FernandoDenise Fernando, A van der Ent, AS Weerasinghe, DSA Wijesundara, GWAR Fernando, AE Fernando, MCM Iqbal, CH Miranda, JM Gosse, S Samithri, N Rajakaruna
Some of the largest expanses of ultramafic soils occur in South Asia, but knowledge of the plant diversity and biogeochemistry of these systems in Sri Lanka is very limited. This study aimed to assess the plant diversity and bedrock and foliar chemistry of all known Sri Lankan ultramafic outcrops. The field survey yielded a total of 132 plant taxa from 44 families. The enigmatic nickel hyperaccumulator Rinorea bengalensis (Violaceae), first reported in Sri Lanka over four decades ago, was rediscovered at a newly surveyed ultramafic site, however, it did not hyperaccumulate nickel. No new metal hyperaccumulator plants were identified, suggesting that R. bengalensis is a facultative nickel hyperaccumulator. This study is the first to highlight the floristic diversity of all known Sri Lankan ultramafic outcrops while revealing the facultative nature of nickel and copper hyperaccumulation among some of Sri Lanka's ultramafic plants.


The authors would like to thank the National Geographic Society (grant no. WW-R019-17 awarded to Denise Fernando) for funding all fieldwork and the US-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission for funding Nishanta Rajakaruna. They would also like to thank M. Hapukotuwa, R. S. M. Perera, R. Dissanayake, and A. Medawatte for their contributions of technical and field/herbarium expertise. The useful feedback provided by two anonymous reviewers is also greatly appreciated.


Publication Date



Ecological Research






(p. 215-227)





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© 2021 The Authors. Ecological Research published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of The Ecological Society of Japan. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.