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Chamaedorea elegans

January 30, 2019
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Chamaedorea elegans

Ornamental palm that absorbs the majority of benzene that can be found in a closed environment such as home or office rooms

Chamaedorea elegans, also called parlour palm, is a small plant of the Arecaceae, or palms, family. Native to Mexico, it is nowadays one of the most sold houseplant palms in the world thanks to its elegant appearance, with a thin stem and leaves of a beautiful, intense green color. If kept indoors, it grows very slowly and does not reach a meter in height. Chamaedorea elegans, however, is not only ornamental but is characterized by a beneficial action on the microclimate of the house since it appears in the list of the 50 most effective plants against pollutants compiled by the scientist of NASA Bill Wolverton in the 80s. Wolverton was commissioned to try to understand how to improve the living conditions in space bases by focusing on the plant world and its ability to remove toxic substances from the air. And Wolverton managed to identify a list of particularly active plants against pollutants, among these appears the Chamaedorea elegans that, like the other plants in the list, is very useful to improve daily life by cleaning up the rooms where we spend a lot of time, home and offices. Wolverton's work can be found on the Internet under the title Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. Based on this study, Chamaedorea is able to remove about 70% of benzene in an environment. Benzene is a substance classified as carcinogenic by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). Despite this, benzene can be detected in the rooms of the houses since it is released into the air by cigarette smoke or other sources of combustion such as fireplaces, stoves, candles and incense, but also from household cleaning products, printers, glues, solvents and paints, especially in the first weeks, new furniture and coverings. It is important to note that, when it comes to benzene, there is no threshold considered safe and even low values of this substance can be a risk of health in the long run. So, hence the importance to often air the rooms but also to place in house anti-pollution plants that are not only beautiful to admire but also useful and healthy.

As for the Chamaedorea elegans, this palm does not require special care. On the contrary, it tolerates even non optimal conditions therefore proving to be a very resistant plant, another reason why it is so appreciated. While loving well-lit environments it adapts to very low light conditions and lives well even in low humidity places. Watering should be frequent but not abundant.

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