RHS Science Discovers 'Super Plant' Fights Air Pollution

February 18th 2021

RHS Science have discovered that the humble hedging shrub Cotoneaster franchetii is at least 20% more effective at soaking up pollution compared to other shrubs.

At the time of writing, this readily available plant is listed on the RHS Plant Finder website as being available to order from 36 suppliers.

The bushy, hairy-leafed Cotoneaster franchetii (Franchet’s cotoneaster) is the latest ‘super plant’ to help boost the environment and improve human health because of its special ability to fight pollution by trapping harmful airborne particles.

Poor air quality has been declared the largest environmental risk to UK public health* and according to a recent RHS commissioned survey of 2,056 adults, air pollution affects one in three people (33%) in the UK.

However only 6% take active steps in the garden to help alleviate it. In London, nearly 6 in 10 (59%) are affected by air pollution and almost a quarter (22%) of Londoners are ‘significantly affected’ but only 4% plant with pollution in mind.

Research lead for the paper and RHS Principal Horticultural Scientist, Dr. Tijana Blanusa 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.

We know that in just seven days a one metre length of well-managed dense hedge will mop up the same amount of pollution that a car emits over a 500 mile drive..."

Sources: RHS Press Release

Based on scientific paper, which can be read here: