Description of practice

Phytoremediation (including phytostabilization, phytodegradation, phytoextraction and phytovolatilization) is the practice of using living green plants to immobilize or adsorb contaminants from polluted soil. It is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach to tackling contamination issues.

Examples of how to use phytoremediation Further information
(see Note below)

AMP82 01

Phytoextraction using Indian mustard

Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) is planted in areas contaminated with heavy metals. It produces high quantities of biomass in which a range of heavy metals are hyperaccumulated or volatilized. Aboveground parts can be removed (phytoextraction) while roots contribute to phytostabilization.


»Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., India, Sect. B Biol. Sci. - Rathore et al.

AMP82 02

Phytoextraction and phytodegradation using willow short-rotation coppice

Willow (Salix sp.) is grown to remediate soil contaminated with heavy metals including zinc, nickel and cadmium. It is a fast-growing species that is also effective for phytodegradation of organic pollutants and as a bio-energy crop.


»Int J Phytoremediation - Janssen et al.
»Environmental Pollution - Vervaeke et al.

AMP82 03

Phytoextraction and phytodegradation using poplar short-rotation coppice

Poplar (Populus sp.) is grown in a short-rotation coppice. Due to its extensive root system, high water uptake, rapid growth and large biomass production it is effective for phytodegradation of organic pollutants, as a phytoextraction strategy for most heavy metals and is a valuable bio-energy crop.



AMP82 04

Phytodegradation of pesticides using Indian grass

Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) is grown with other grass species on contaminated soil. Indian grass is tolerant of most herbicides and of climatic extremes. In mixed stands it develops a rhizosphere with microflora that can readily detoxify pesticide residues and reduce rates of pesticide leaching.


»Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C - Henderson et al.

AMP82 05

Phytoextraction using sunflower

Sunflowers (Helianthus Annuus) are grown to remediate soils contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium, lead and zinc. The plants accumulate the metals in their shoots and leaves (phytoextraction).


»Only In Your

AMP82 06

Phytostabilization using Miscanthus

Miscanthus is a perennial grass grown on soils contaminated with heavy metals. Revenue can be obtained with this green-energy crop without presenting a risk to human or animal health while heavy metals are stabilized.


»WOCAT technology 1706

AMP82 07

Phytovolatilization of arsenic using Pteris vittata

The Chinese ladder brake fern (Pteris vittate) is grown to rehabilitate soil contaminated with arsenic. The fern is a hyperaccumulator of arsenic, volatizing 90% of what it takes up so no removal of plant parts is needed. It requires subtropical growing conditions.


»UMASS - Sakakibara et al
»Mother Earth

Note: Most of the Further information links are to a full description of the example in the WOCAT database. However sometimes the link may be to similar practices or a research paper. Occasionally the link is to a commercial product in which case it should be understood that this does not imply any endorsement of the product by iSQAPER.

Go To Top