Phenolic compounds have been identified previously as potentially responsible for allelopathic interferences in spruce forest at high altitude. They have now been analyzed in canopy leachates, snow, and soil solutions collected from the three layers of the podsolic soil: OA, E, and B. Leachates were characterized by high tanning capacity and by p-hydroxyacetophenone (found at 10-6 M) also detected as the major (10-7 M) monomeric compound in snow. At least 10 phenolic monomers, including vanillic, p-hydroxybenzoic, and protocatechuic acids were identified in capillary waters extracted from the OA layer with their sum reaching 2 x 10-6 M. These monomers were only a small part (1%) of the total phenolics. In soil solutions, significant decreases in phenolic concentrations with depth were observed between the E and B layers, with qualitative modifications of the phenolic pattern. Spruce leachates and soil solutions exhibited high temporal variability, resulting in transitory allolopathic potential towards both aerial and subterranean parts of spruce seedlings. The occurrence of various and soluble phenolic compounds in the whole forest system, including p-hydroxyacetophenone, which persist from green needles to soil solutions, suggests that they could be involved in complex and interactive processes occurring during organic matter accumulation on the coniferous forest floor.
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