Can a bushy, hairy-leafed ‘super plant’ hold the key to air pollution in busy roads and pollution hot spots across Britain?
A new paper by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) suggests in traffic hotspots the plant named Cotoneaster franchetii proves to be at least 20% more effective at soaking up pollution compared to other shrubs.
The report shows the plant traps harmful airborne particles like no other.
Scientists found that in just seven days a one-metre length of a dense hedge will absorb the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500-mile drive.
The research screened the summertime accumulation of particulates on roadside hedges in Reading to investigate how the urban hedges can act as air pollution barriers.
According to a recent RHS commissioned survey of 2,056 adults, air pollution affects one-in-three people in the UK. However, only 6% take active steps in the garden to help alleviate it.
Dr Tijana Blanusa, Research Lead for the paper and RHS Principal Horticultural Scientist, said: “On major city roads with heavy traffic we’ve found that the species with more complex denser canopies, rough and hairy-leaves such as cotoneaster were the most effective.”
Professor Alistair Griffiths, RHS Director of Science and Collections, said: “We are continually identifying new ‘super plants’ with unique qualities which when combined with other vegetation provide enhanced benefits while providing much-needed habitats for wildlife.“