List of air-filtering plants

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The first list of air-filtering plants was compiled by NASA as part of the NASA Clean Air Study,[1][2][3] which researched ways to clean air in space stations. As well as absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, as all plants do, these plants also eliminate significant amounts of benzene, formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene. The second and third list are from B. C. Wolverton's book[4] and paper[5] and focus on removal of specific chemicals.

NASA researchers suggest efficient air cleaning is accomplished with at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space.[1]


Plant, Top remover of:benzene
(NASA)[1] (Wolverton)[4]
xylene and
ammonia[5]Poisonous or Edible?[6]
Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)NoWolvertonNoYesNoNon-toxic to cats
Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens)NoNoNoYesNoNon-toxic to cats
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis')NoWolvertonNoYesNoNon-toxic to cats
Kimberly queen fern (Nephrolepis obliterata)NoWolvertonNoYesNoNon-toxic to cats
English ivy (Hedera helix)YesWolvertonNoYesNoToxic to cats
Lilyturf (Liriope spicata)NoYesNoYesYesNon-toxic to cats
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)NoNASANoYesNoNon-toxic to cats
Devil's ivy (Epipremnum aureum)YesNASAYesYesNoPoisonous if eaten or chewed by pets or children[7]
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')YesWolvertonYesYesYesMildly toxic to cats and dogs
Flamingo lily (Anthurium andraeanum)NoYesNoYesYesPoisonous[8]
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)Wolverton[9]Wolverton[9]NoNoNoToxic to cats
Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)NoNASA, WolvertonNoYesNoNon-toxic to cats
Broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)NoYesNoYesYesNon-toxic to cats
Variegated snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')WolvertonNASAWolvertonYesNoToxic to cats and dogs [10]
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)NoNASANoNoNoToxic to cats
Selloum philodendron
(Philodendron bipinnatifidum)
NoNASANoNoNoToxic to cats
Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)NoNASANoNoNoToxic to cats
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena reflexa)YesNASAYesYesNoToxic to dogs and cats [11]
Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana')NoNASANoNoNoToxic to cats
Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)[12]NoWolvertonNoYesNoPoisonous if eaten or chewed by dogs, cats and horses[13]
Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)YesWolvertonYesNoNoNon-toxic to cats
Florist's chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)YesNASA, WolvertonYesYesYesPoisonous if eaten or chewed by dogs, cats and horses[14]
Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)NoWolvertonNoNoNoToxic to cats
Dendrobium orchids (Dendrobium spp.)NoNoNoYesNoNon-toxic to cats
Dumb canes (Dieffenbachia spp.)NoNoNoYesNoCauses oral inflammation in children[15] and animals[16] if chewed
King of hearts (Homalomena wallisii)NoNoNoYesNo ?
Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.)NoNoNoYesNoNon-toxic to cats


Most of the plants on the list evolved in tropical or subtropical environments. Due to their ability to flourish on reduced sunlight, their leaf composition allows them to photosynthesize well in household light.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Pottorff, L. Plants "Clean" Air Inside Our Homes. Colorado State University & Denver County Extension Master Gardener. 2010.
  2. ^ Wolverton, B. C., et al. (1984). Foliage plants for removing indoor air pollutants from energy-efficient homes. Economic Botany 38(2), 224-28.
  3. ^ Wolverton, B. C., et al. A study of interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement: an interim report. NASA. July, 1989.
  4. ^ a b c Wolverton, B. C. (1996) How to Grow Fresh Air. New York: Penguin Books.
  5. ^ a b c Wolverton, B. C. and J. D. Wolverton. (1993). Plants and soil microorganisms: removal of formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia from the indoor environment. Journal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences 38(2), 11-15.
  6. ^ Toxic and non-toxic plants. Pet Care. ASPCA.
  7. ^ Schrock, D. 24 of the easiest houseplants you can grow. Better Homes and Gardens.
  8. ^ Notes on poisoning: Anthurium andraeanum. Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System. Government of Canada.
  9. ^ a b Wolverton, B. C., et al. Interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement: final report. NASA. September, 1989. pp 11-12.
  10. ^ Golden Birds Nest. Pet Care. ASPCA.
  11. ^ Red-Marginated Dracaena. Pet Care. ASPCA.
  12. ^ American Society for Horticultural Science. Indoor plants can reduce formaldehyde levels. ScienceDaily. February 20, 2009. Quote: "...Complete plants removed approximately 80% of the formaldehyde within 4 hours. Control chambers pumped with the same amount of formaldehyde, but not containing any plant parts, decreased by 7.3% during the day and 6.9% overnight within 5 hours..." In reference to: Kim, J. K., et al. (2008). Efficiency of volatile formaldehyde removal by indoor plants: contribution of aerial plant parts versus the root zone. Horticultural Science 133: 479-627.
  13. ^ Fig. Pet Care. ASPCA.
  14. ^ Chrysanthemum. Pet Care. ASPCA.
  15. ^ Boyle, J. S., et al. Plant Poisoning, Caladium, Dieffenbachia, and Philodendron. Medscape. 2011.
  16. ^ Dieffenbachia. Pet Care. ASPCA.

External links[edit]