iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Contrasted growth response of hybrid larch (Larix × marschlinsii), jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and white spruce (Picea glauca) to wood ash application in northwestern Quebec, Canada

Nicolas Bélanger (1)   , Gustavo Palma Ponce (2), Suzanne Brais (2)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 14, Issue 2, Pages 155-165 (2021)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3597-014
Published: Apr 06, 2021 - Copyright © 2021 SISEF

Research Articles

The use of wood ash as a soil amendment in afforestation and reforestation efforts is increasing. While most studies suggest benefits or neutral results on tree growth and survival, a few studies indicate adverse effects. Hybrid larch, jack pine and white spruce were studied at three northwestern Quebec plantation sites after they received wood ash at two application rates. Soil chemical properties, foliar nutrients and seedling growth and mortality were monitored over a period of eight years. The response of soil to ash application was mostly observed in the forest floor and was more pronounced in year 3 than year 8, likely due to the acidifying nature of the boreal soils studied. Jack pine growth increased linearly with wood ash application rates, white spruce growth showed an inconsistent and delayed positive response under the higher application rate, and hybrid larch growth and survival were either increased or decreased under the lower application rate depending of site but decreased at all sites under the higher application rate. The divergence in growth response between tree species underlines a trade-off between species with rapid acquisition of resources (e.g., pine, larch) to species that use more conservative strategies and store nutrients in their tissues for longer periods (e.g., spruce). In the case of hybrid larch, it accumulated larger amounts of Mn in its needles under the higher application rate and thus, the high bioavailability of Mn appears to have been detrimental to its survival and growth. Its higher sensitivity to Mn addition from ash is likely due to its highly acquisitive (nutrients) nature compared to other coniferous species as well as the initial levels of available Mn levels in the soil. The contrasted growth responses reported here under similar growing conditions highlight the importance of identifying suitable species, sites and application rates to maximize the benefits of wood ash amendments for future tree plantations in the boreal forest.


Wood Ash, Fertilization, Boreal Forest, Soil Properties, Foliar Nutrition, Tree Growth

Authors’ address

Nicolas Bélanger 0000-0001-6992-8307
Département Science et Technologie, Université TÉLUQ, 5800, rue Saint-Denis, Bureau 1105, Montréal, Québec H2S 3L5 (Canada)
Gustavo Palma Ponce
Suzanne Brais 0000-0002-8604-4447
Institut de Recherche sur les Forêts, Université du Québec en Abitibi -Témiscamingue, 445 Blv. Université, Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec J9X 5E4 (Canada)

Corresponding author

Nicolas Bélanger


Bélanger N, Palma Ponce G, Brais S (2021). Contrasted growth response of hybrid larch (Larix × marschlinsii), jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and white spruce (Picea glauca) to wood ash application in northwestern Quebec, Canada. iForest 14: 155-165. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3597-014

Academic Editor

Gianluca Piovesan

Paper history

Received: Jul 21, 2020
Accepted: Jan 29, 2021

First online: Apr 06, 2021
Publication Date: Apr 30, 2021
Publication Time: 2.23 months

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