Sansevieria trifasciata, also known as snake plant or mother in law’s tongue, is a plant belonging to the Liliacee family and native to West Africa and India. It is used as ornamental plant thanks to its fleshy and straight leaves but the plant is also able to improve the microclimate by absorbing pollution that can be found in houses or offices. The snake plant has been inserted in the list of NASA of the fifty plants particularly useful to absorb toxic substances and pollution according to a study commissioned by the American space agency in the ‘80s with the purpose to improve, thanks to vegetable world, the life conditions in the space basis. This study can be read online with the title Interior Landscape Plants for indoor air pollution abatement, written by B. Wolverton, the scientist responsible of performing the research. On the basis of the reported results the mother in law’s tongue is able to absorb the 53% of benzene and the 13,4% of trichloroethylene present in a room. Benzene, in particular, is a substance irritating to eyes and skin and carcinogenic, possible sources of this substance may be the cigarette smoke and the combustion of chimney and stoves or candles, detergents, paints, building material, glue, new furniture and, as an external source, petrol vehicles. The trichloroethylene is a toxic substance, especially for the liver, and carcinogenic, used to remove fats from metallic surfaces it can be also found in dry cleaners.
In addition to this, as a result of the production and usage of this substance, the trichloroethylene has been detected in the groundwater and also surface water where it evaporates easily and goes in the air. For this reason closed spaces can have a very polluted air and, since we spend a lot of time in houses or offices, a good and healthy choice can be using anti-pollution plants, like the snake plant, in order to improve the place where we work or live.
As for the plant maintenance, the snake plant loves bright spaces but it is better to avoid the direct light exposure, watering should be done when the soil is dry and in general the plant is very resistant.