The Phyto-Sensor Toolkit provides resources for working with plants that are sensitive to air pollution. Plants are sensors that detect and in some cases mitigate air pollution. Some plants are especially effective at taking up pollutants, whether by absorbing gaseous pollutants through their stomata, drawing in heavy metals through their roots, or channelling and depositing particulates in their leaves.

This toolkit includes resources for creating air-quality gardens, and for monitoring air quality with low-cost sensors.

The Citizen Sense research group has developed the term “Phyto-sensor” to describe these vegetal processes whereby plants sense and respond to their environments. Of particular focus here is the way in which phyto-sensing can improve air quality, especially in urban settings.

Plants are participants in our urban ecologies, and they contribute to our urban environmental communities. This exploration of plant sensing is connected to a wider Citizen Sense project area, Wild Sensing, which investigates how organisms sense their environments, and how this might inform new types of environmental practices.

The toolkit can also be accessed through the Museum of London:

Phyto-sensor toolkit

Clean Air Gardens

The Phyto-sensor toolkit and event were developed in collaboration with the Museum of London in the City of London. Citizen Sense held a workshop and walk to test and further develop the toolkit. The event investigated the ways in which vegetation can improve or respond to air quality.

The Phyto-sensor project and events are supported in part through the Low Emission Neighbourhood (LEN) fund, an initiative from the Mayor of London to help local councils improve air quality.

There are a number of clean air gardens installed in the City of London, which have also been supported through the LEN initiative, and are partially documented in the Phyto-Sensor Toolkit.

Moor Lane Pop-Up Garden