Hickory trees concentrate the rare-earth elements in their leaves to a phenomenal degree and may contain as much as 2300 p.p.m. of total rare earths based on the dry weight of the leaves. The average proportions of the individual elements (atomic percent of the total rare-earth elements) in the leaves are: Y 36, La 16, Ce 14, Pr 2, Nd 20, Sm 1, Eu 0.7, Gd 3, Tb 0.6, Dy 3, Ho 0.7, Er 2, Tm 0.2, Yb 1, and Lu 0.2. The similarity in the proportions of the rare-earth elements in the leaves and in the exchange complex of the soil on which the hickory trees grow indicates that the trees do not fractionate the rare earths appreciably. The variation of the rare-earth elements in the leaves and soils can be explained generally in terms of the relative abundance of the cerium group and the yttrium group, except for the element cerium. The large fluctuations in the proportion of cerium [Ce/(La + Nd) atomic ratios of 0.16 to 0.86] correlate with oxidation-reduction conditions in the soil profile. The substitution of dilute H2SO3 for dilute HC1 in the determination of available rare-earth elements brings about a large increase in the proportion of cerium that is extracted from an oxygenated subsoil. These relationships strongly suggest that quadrivalent cerium is present in oxygenated subsoil and is less available to plants than the other rare-earth elements that do not undergo such a change in valence. A few parts per billion of rare-earth elements have been detected in two samples of ground water. ?? 1958.
Additional publication details
Biogeochemistry of the rare-earth elements with particular reference to hickory trees