Spectral characterization of Quillaja saponaria (Mol.)

T. Acuña, C. Mattar, H. J. Hernández


This paper presents a spectral reflectance characterization of the specie Quillaja saponaria (Mol.), endemic tree of Chile and valued by society due to its provision of several ecosystem services that gives to society and also for its high concentration of saponins in cortex widely used in the pharmacological industry. For spectral characterization a foliar spectral signatures protocol was designed which included standardized instrumental and environmental parameters. The spectral response of different individuals was measured to evaluate the spectral behaviour and degree of variability within species in the visible and near infrared ranges (VNIR; 400-990 nm) with two hyperspectral sensors (ASD HH and camera PDF-65-V10E). The resulting spectral signatures obtained with ASD HH showed a variation less than 5% of reflectance in VNIR and lesser than that in the transition zone from red to near infrared (red-edge; 680-730 nm). Additionally, two distinctive spectral features were detected for the specie, the first is related to a fast increase of reflectance in bands 450-480 nm and the second, to a marked decrease in the 920-970 nm range associated with water absorption features. At branch level, these distinctive features are maintained but with a smaller magnitude of reflectance, which could indicate that they are useful characteristic spectral patterns that can eventually be used for monitoring the physical health state of the specie using remote sensing. On the other hand, we used a PDF-65 camera for study the plant vigour from different health states (healthy, ill, died) with spectral vegetation index. The Plant Senescence Reflectance Index detected stress on leaves, and Triangular Vegetation Index allows for a gradually characterization of every state. This work provides the first spectral reference for one of the most important sclerophyll species of Chile.


Quillaja saponaria; Chile; Plant Senescence Reflectance Index; Protocol

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