Hydrocarbon Phytoremediators:

Phytoremediation is the process of using plants to help clean up contaminated air, soil, and water.

Various plants, called hyperaccumulators, have been identified for their potential to facilitate the phytoremediation of sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbon.1

Most that have been studied thus far belong to the grass or legume family. Here are a few other studies on hydrocarbon phytoremediators: 23.

Plants we will work with that are able to take up hydrocarbons include:

Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis) [can also take up Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH)]

Western Wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)

Plants grow best when other supportive plants are nearby:

Based on your survey responses (the growing requirements of the location where you will plant your seeds; the colours you would like to introduce into your location, etc), additional seeds will become part of your Natural Plant Community Toolkit to plant alongside our hydrocarbon phytoremediators. Potential plants will include (be sure to visit these links once you receive your Natural Plant Community Toolkit later in the summer):

Canada Anemone
Purple Avens
Giant Goldenrod
Rosy Pussytoes
Fringed Loosestrife
Blue Columbine
Black Eyed Susan
Joe Pyeweed
Smooth Blue Aster
Graceful Cinquefoil
Great Blanket Flower
Anise Hyssop

A few things that can support plant development + growth:

This project asks participants to think together about how we might work with plants in ways that are supportive – how we might move beyond thinking about them as ‘technology’ performing a task, but rather as collaborators. This requires a recalibration of perspective.

Studies have shown that plants take up more hydrocarbons when Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi [AMF] are also present. The plant and fungi share a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship.

The AMF acts as extension of the root system of plants, assisting with the absorption of both water and nutrients. In return, the plant provides the fungus with a source of carbohydrates. 

Plant diversity is also beneficial to supporting plants working to remediate toxic lands. 

Natural Plant Community Toolkits:

Now that you’ve been introduced to some background, you will be asked to complete a survey with details about the locations where you plan to plant your seeds. A Natural Plant Community Toolkit will be custom-made for you based on your survey which you can pick up at Museum London later in the summer (you will receive an email with details as to when/where). Each Natural Plant Community Toolkit contains:

  1. Grass seed capable of taking up hydrocarbons;
  2.  Custom-made flower seed packs based on specific planting locations;
  3. A package of AMF to help support growing seeds;
  4. A one-sheet with instructions;
  5. Two blank postcards; one to map your plant location, and one to send on to another.

Survey –>