21 Best Trees to Reduce Pollution

Ralph Astley is a retired gardener from Philadelphia who specializes in outdoor plants and trees. With years of hands-on experience, Ralph not only cares for a diverse range of outdoor flora but also shares his extensive knowledge through well-written articles and social media posts. A trusted authority in arboriculture, he's committed to helping the community grow healthier, more robust gardens.
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Here’s an exclusive list of the Best Trees to Reduce Pollution. Grow them today to improve the quality of air in your surroundings.

With most of the world choking on a cocktail of toxic fumes and particulate matter, researchers across the globe are narrowing down on specific species of pollutant-gobbling species. Read on to find some of the top Trees to Reduce Pollution. 

How Trees Help in Reducing Pollution in Urban Spaces?

  • Air purification: Trees act as natural air filters by absorbing pollutants from the air through their leaves. They capture airborne particles such as dust, smoke, and various gases, including carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Through a process called photosynthesis, trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, improving air quality and reducing pollution levels.
  • Particulate matter filtration: Urban areas often have high levels of particulate matter, which can be harmful to human health when inhaled. Trees help mitigate this issue by trapping and filtering out particulate matter from the air, preventing it from reaching the ground and reducing its concentration in the immediate vicinity.

Here are Houseplants that Reduce Dust and Particulate Matter

  • Psychological benefits: The presence of trees and green spaces in urban areas has been shown to have positive effects on mental health and well-being. Access to green spaces and nature has been linked to reduced stress levels and improved overall psychological well-being. By creating a healthier and more pleasant environment, trees contribute to reducing the negative impacts of pollution on mental health.

Trees to Reduce Pollution

1. Silver Birch 

Trees to Reduce Pollution 1

Botanical Name: Betula pendula

USDA Zones: 2-7

First on the list of trees to reduce pollution is birch.  This tree has the potential to absorb up to 3,100 kilos of CO2 to clean up the air. 

Check out What Does Calendula Smell Like? here

2. Turkey Oak

Botanical Name: Quercus cerris

USDA Zones: 6-9

This beautiful tree can absorb 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. It could be distinguished by its shoot buds surrounded by acorns that naturally mature in 16-18 months.

Check out Different Oak Tree Varieties here

3. Largeleaf Linden

Trees to Reduce Pollution 3

Botanical Name: Tilia Plathyphyllos

USDA Zones: 3-7

This fast-growing, fragrant, giant, long-living tree is quite common on the urban roadside and in parks, with an impressive capacity to reduce pollutants.

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4. Littleleaf Linden

Botanical Name: Tilia cordata

USDA Zones: 3-7

Apart from cleaning the surrounding air, the tree has medicinal uses to cure bronchitis, headaches, sore throat, and fever.

5. Common Ash

Trees to Reduce Pollution 5

Botanical Name: Fraxinus excelsior

USDA Zones: 3-9

The next on the list of trees to reduce pollution is common ash. It has the ability to absorb over 3,000 kilos of carbon dioxide in 30 years.

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6. Field Elm 


Botanical Name: Ulmus minor

USDA Zones: 3-9

This tall and impressive tree that is also the prince of Italian landscapes can transform thousands of carbon dioxide kilos into biomass.

Check out our Elm Tree Identification Guide here

7. Black Alder

Trees to Reduce Pollution 7

Botanical Name: Alnus glutinosa

USDA Zones: 3-8

It is a small tree that can prevent up to 2,600 kilos of carbon dioxide and can strongly absorb many gas pollutants.

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8. Mediterranean Hackberry

Botanical Name: Celtis australis

USDA Zones: 7-10

This one is best suited to absorb up to 3,660 kilos of carbon dioxide in 20 years. The Mediterranean Hackberry can grow up to 65-82 feet or 20-25 meters in height. 

Check out Costus Barbatus Care and Growing Information here

9. Ginkgo

Trees to Reduce Pollution 9

Botanical Name: Ginkgo Biloba

USDA Zones: 3-8

This tree dates back to 290 million years ago and can absorb up to 2,800 kilos of carbon dioxide.  

Check out 21 Best Trees to Reduce Pollution here

10. Norway Maple

Botanical Name: Acer platanoides

USDA Zones: 4-7

Another tree to reduce pollution is this maple. This is the best among all anti-smog trees, as it can absorb five tonnes of carbon dioxide in 30 years.

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11. London Plane

Trees to Reduce Pollution 11

Botanical Name: Platanus x acerifolia

USDA Zones: 7-9

This tree species is known for its ability to withstand urban pollution and effectively absorb pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide.

12. Eastern White Pine

Botanical Name: Pinus strobus

USDA Zones: 3-8

White pines are efficient at capturing particulate matter and can help purify the air. They also have a high rate of photosynthesis, aiding in carbon dioxide absorption.

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13. Black Tupelo

Trees to Reduce Pollution 13

Botanical Name: Nyssa sylvatica

USDA Zones: 4-9

Also known as the Black Gum tree, it is a great choice for pollution reduction. Its leaves trap particulate matter, and it is tolerant of a wide range of environmental conditions.

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14. Honey Locust


Botanical Name: Gleditsia triacanthos

USDA Zones: 3-9

Honey Locust trees are resilient and can thrive in polluted urban environments. They have the ability to absorb various pollutants, including particulate matter, and provide shade and cooling benefits.

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15. Swamp White Oak

Trees to Reduce Pollution 15

Botanical Name: Quercus bicolor

USDA Zones: 4-8

This tree is highly effective at removing pollutants from the air, including carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. It also helps in reducing noise pollution.

16. Eastern Redcedar

Botanical Name: Juniperus virginiana

USDA Zones: 2-9

Another great tree to reduce pollution is Redcedars. They effectively capture particulate matter and can help combat air pollution. They can tolerate urban environments with ease.

Check out Ginkgo Biloba Tree Care and How to Grow it here

17. Sacred FigTrees to Reduce Pollution 17

Botanical Name: Ficus religiosa

USDA Zones: 10-12

The Sacred Fig tree, known for its cultural and religious significance, helps reduce pollution through its ability to absorb and neutralize harmful gases like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

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18. Douglas Fir

Botanical Name: Pseudotsuga menziesii

USDA Zones: 4-6

The Douglas Fir, a majestic evergreen conifer with soft needles commonly found in North America, contributes to pollution reduction by providing a dense canopy that improves air quality.

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19. Banyan Tree

Trees to Reduce Pollution 19

Botanical Name: Ficus benghalensis

USDA Zones: 10-12

A remarkable tree with aerial prop roots that extend downwards from its branches, the Banyan Tree is a symbol of longevity. With its extensive aerial roots, it helps combat pollution by absorbing pollutants like particulate matter and reducing noise pollution through its dense foliage.

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20. Beech Tree

Botanical Name: Fagus

USDA Zones: 3-9

Recognizable by its smooth bark and elegant, ovate leaves, the Beech Tree is a deciduous tree known for its strong and durable wood. It is effective in filtering airborne pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides.

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21. Aspen Tree

Trees to Reduce Pollution 21

Botanical Name: Populus tremula

USDA Zones: 1-7

A slender and fast-growing deciduous tree, the Aspen is characterized by its vibrant green leaves that tremble and shimmer in the slightest breeze. The tree aids in pollution reduction by capturing pollutants and improving air quality.

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