To investigate the inter relationship of metal elements in soil-medicinal plant systems, 51 pairs of soil and Chinese herbaceous peony samples were collected from Bozhou City, China. Our results revealed that the major and trace elements in soils and Chinese herbaceous peony samples were in a similar descent order as: Al > Fe > Mn > Cr > Zn > Cu > Pb > As > Cd for soil samples, and Al > Fe > Zn > Mn > Cu > Cr > Pb > As > Cd for peony samples. The pollution indices of Enrichment factor (EF) and Nemerow integrated pollution index (NIPI) both indicated that Cr was the priority pollutant in soils and the other elements (Mn, As, Fe, Cd, Pb, Cu, and Zn) were slightly elevated. In general, the pollution load index (PLI) indicated that the studied soils were slightly contaminated by the nine elements. Furthermore, there existed significant relationship between Cr content in peony samples and Cr content in soils and soil pH (P < 0.01), indicating that the main source of Cr in Chinese herbaceous peony was probably from soils. Additionally, Cr content in peony samples displayed the highest hazard quotient (HQ) value, followed by As, Cu, Al, Fe, Zn, Mn, Cd, and Pb. Although the hazard quotient (HQ) for all elements and hazard index (HI) were lower than 1, which indicated no adverse health effects for adults, it was necessary to strengthen the control of soil Cr content in the process of peony planting.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Geochemical processes related to mined, milled, or natural metal deposits collection available at:

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