Experts identify ‘super-plant’ that absorbs roadside air pollution

  • The Guardian – Thu 18 Feb 2021 06.01 GMT

Bushy variety of cotoneaster works best in areas of heavy traffic, say researchers, while other plants can cool buildings or reduce flooding

Bushy, hairy-leafed cotoneaster is a “super plant” that can help soak up pollution on busy roads, horticultural experts have said.

Scientists at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) looked at the effectiveness of hedges for soaking up air pollution, comparing different types of shrubs including cotoneaster, hawthorn and western red cedar.

The study forms part of work by the charity to ease environmental problems such as air pollution, flooding and heatwaves, boosting the benefits of gardens and green spaces.

On roads with heavy traffic, the denser, hairy-leaved Cotoneaster franchetiiwas at least 20% more effective at soaking up pollution compared with other shrubs, the researchers said, though it did not make a difference on quieter streets.

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