"Super plant" cotoneaster can absorb roadside air pollution, says the RHS

Lisa Walden
·2-min read
Photo credit: Clive Nichols - Getty Images
Photo credit: Clive Nichols - Getty Images

From Country Living

Experts at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have found that the bushy, flowering cotoneaster garden plant can help absorb roadside air pollution in a groundbreaking new study.

In the research, the UK's leading gardening charity found that the hairy-leaved plant was at least 20% more effective at soaking up pollution on roads with heavy traffic compared to other shrubs.

Known for its simple leaves and clusters of bright berries, the plant is ideal to place in pollution hot spots, such as busy cities. Whether you have a balcony or small garden, cotoneaster is not only good at encouraging nature but can help purify the air you breathe, too.

"On major city roads with heavy traffic, we've found that the species with more complex, denser canopies and rough and hairy leaves such as cotoneaster were the most effective," Dr Tijana Blanusa, the lead researcher, told The Guardian. "We know that in just seven days a 1-metre length of well-managed dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500-mile drive."

Photo credit: Traveling around the world and photograph whatever I like. - Getty Images
Photo credit: Traveling around the world and photograph whatever I like. - Getty Images

Elsewhere in their research, the RHS also found that just 6% of people from a study of 2,056 are actively taking steps to alleviate pollution from their garden. Meanwhile, 86% care about the environment and 78% are worried about climate change.

Prof Alistair Griffiths, RHS director of science and collections, adds: "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.

"We've found, for example, that ivy wall cover excels at cooling buildings, and hawthorn and privet help ease intense summer rainfalls and reduce localised flooding. If planted in gardens and green spaces where these environmental issues are most prevalent, we could make a big difference in the fight against climate change."

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