The Snake Plant Effects (Part I)

Carlos Andam By Carlos Andam, 30th Nov 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Environment

The snake plant effect is not simply its ornamental value in homes and offices but a natural air bio-purifier, based from two studies and an exploratory to support a local handicraft industry. Read on to learn from these studies. Part I here is about the plant and the U. S. study.

About the plant

More than its aesthetic value, snake plant or buntot tigre among the locals is one of the plants that has been tested to have the capacity to purify indoor air in homes, offices, and in spacecraft from pollutants. So, one could have his/her own air bio-purifier by just growing this plant in pots and place them in offices or homes as decorative items. In fact, the plant in itself is an ornament both as a houseplant and a landscaping material. This plant is hardy and needs very minimal care and maintenance anyway.

Neglected and under-utilised plant

In general, this plant maybe considered neglected and underutilized except as an ornament but it is not so popular although it is an excellent source of fiber for cordage, ropes, handicraft and paper making. There seems, however, no enterprise or industry using the plant’s fiber as raw materials at least here in the Philippines. The plant is given dreadful names as snake plant, which is due to its variegated scale-motif colors of dark green, light green, white and yellow, and another horrible but more accepted name, ”mother-in-law’s tongue”, which is named after its bladelike shape leaves. It belongs to the genus Sanseviera with about 70 species. Within the genus, there is a great variation among the species ranging from the succulent desert plants like cactus to the thinner leafed tropical plants, the buntot tigre, otherwise known as Sansevieria trifasciata in botany.

The US study

In 1999, the plant started to gain attention because of the revelation of its excellent capability to absorb air pollutants. This was made possible through the joint effort of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA). This was based on the study conducted by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, Anne Johnson, and Keith Bounds.

It was revealed that Sanseviera has an excellent capability of absorbing 107 air pollutant including carbon monoxide and nitrogen monoxide. But what is striking in the snake plant is that in another study by the Wolverton Environmental Service, it was found out that it absorbs formaldehyde, chloroform, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene. Thus, the plant because it is easy to multiply and grow, has a long life time, drought tolerant, and survives in a wide range of conditions ranging from low light to high light levels although it grows best in medium light as in partially shaded areas, it is an inexpensive bio-purifier for home and offices.

Sansevieria use the crassulacean acid metabolism process, which absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at night. This purportedly makes them suitable bedroom plants.
Sansevieria has also been proven to eliminate bad odor as in the smell of a newly painted walls and new furnitures in rooms still with strong adhesive smell. Two pots of mature Sansevieria inside a 100-square feet room probably can free the occupants from suffering undesired odor.

Since it was consistently shown that the Sanseviera removes toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and nitrogen oxides, it means that industries and workplaces such as automotive plants and shops, aircraft plants, plywood, carpeting, paint makers and sellers, printing, and offices, where these chemicals abound in the products produced and used, would greatly benefit from keeping several Sansevieria plants around. The NASA-ALCA study whose purpose was to determine how to clean the air in space stations recommended 15 to 18 medium-to-large size plants for a1,800-square feet home.

Also, considering the kind of toxic airborne substances that the snake plant can absorb, by using it as an indoor plant would save us from a wide range of health risks such as, irritation on skin and eyes, dizziness, weakness, euphoria, headache, nausea, blurred vision, respiratory diseases, tremors, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage, paralysis and unconsciousness.

Actually, there are about 15 plants that NASA-ALCA recommended as pollutant absorber plants, but Sansevieria is apparently to be the most ideal because of its growth characteristics as mentioned earlier. It can absorb up to 80% air pollutant. (CJ Andam, SP Mesina & RUVillanueva)


Air Bio-Purifier, Fiber, Handicraft, Natural Fiber, Snake Plant

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author avatar Carlos Andam
Agriculturist, researcher, professor and a freelance science feature writer.

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author avatar Tricia may caballes
6th Jan 2016 (#)

The snake plant effect is a good idea for it just not help the environment but also helps the community. As said on the statement, the snake plant also supports the local handicraft industry like making bags,gift baskets,slippers,placemats,souveneir items etc... this will help the income of every community especially the unemployed individual.

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author avatar Yharies Fundivilla
6th Jan 2016 (#)

This plant called "snake plant" has a very good effect which can be useful to everyone. Not just for decoration, but also for the health of an individual. Once most of the people already knows how good this plant is, they will have it at their homes/offices. Its very natural, helpful and great.

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author avatar John Elmson Pornela
6th Jan 2016 (#)

We must put a lot of care for this plant. Sometimes when Im walking in the street, I always saw some kids who used this plant just for fun. It helps our environment, therefore we must also help this plant to grow naturally in streets, schools and other public places to lessen the dirt in air that we inhaled.We must protect this plant for it help us in a lot of disciplines.

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author avatar Aubrey Paula Lameyra
6th Jan 2016 (#)

It is Amazing.

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