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Rhododendrons are typically known to be calcifuges that cannot grow well in lime soils. Data on lime tolerance of different taxa in Rhododendron are scarce. Habitats of naturally distributed specimens of genus Rhododendron were compiled as Chinese text-based locations from the Chinese Virtual Herbarium. The locations were then geocoded into latitude/longitude pairs and subsequently connected to soil characteristics including pH and CaCO3 from the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD). Using the upper quartile values of pH > 7.2 and CaCO3 > 2% weight in topsoil as threshold, we predicted the lime tolerant taxa. A dataset of 31,146 Rhododendron specimens including the information on taxonomy, GPS locations and soil parameters for both top- and subsoil was built. The majority of the specimens were distributed in soils with moderately acidic pH and without presence of CaCO3. 76 taxa with potential lime tolerance were predicted out of 525 taxa. The large scale data analysis based on combined data of geocoded herbarium specimens and HWSD allows identification of valuable Rhododendron species, subspecies or botanical varieties with potential tolerance to lime soils with higher pH. The predicted tolerant taxa are valuable resources for an in-depth evaluation of lime tolerance or for further use in horticulture and breeding.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Pages (from-to)1538
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 6944295