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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Wednesday - September 14, 2005

From: Brooklyn, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: General Botany
Title: Smarty Plants on air purification
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

What plant purifies the air?

ANSWER:

The short answer is every living plant purifies the air. All plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and use it in their metabolic processes. They also use oxygen, but actually produce more oxygen -- as a by-product of photosynthesis -- than they consume.

In a now-famous series of experiments, Dr. Bill Wolverton, a NASA scientist, showed the effectiveness of several species of commonly grown indoor (mostly tropical) plants in removing volatile organic compounds, VOC's, from the air.

Many people believe indoor plants are very effective at reducing illness cause by breathing VOC's in the home and office. The illness is often referred to as "Sick Building Syndrome." It is likely that many plants that are not used indoors are just as effective at removing VOC's and other air impurities from the air outdoors.

Here is a list of plants shown to be effective in removing VOC's from indoor air included in a very nice article on the subject.
 

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Manzanita struggling in CA
March 01, 2012 - I live in Monterey, CA and I have had a manzanita (either Dr. Hurd or Mt. Hood) growing successfully in my yard for about 4 years. This fall all the leaves turned brown and brittle. I am not sure if d...
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How can I distinguish Hibiscus laevis from Pavonia braziliensis in New Braunfels, TX?
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Project on natives in Connecticut from Chino CA
April 13, 2010 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, My 10 yr. old daughter is doing a project on Ct., and would like to know what the most common plants, trees and flowers are found in this state. A few of each would be a great ...
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Smarty Plants on Wildflowerology
July 08, 2005 - I know there is a word for everything, but I can't find the offical word for the study of wildflowers. Wildflowerology just doesn't sound right. Can you help?
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