While green walls and rooftops have long been hailed for their ability to reduce the heat island effect in urban centers, the promise that a new breed of honeysuckle – Green Junkie – will reduce pollution in large cities has raised more than a few eyebrows. Named Green Junkie for its so-called craving of particulate matter, the variation of the Honeysuckle is organically cultivated by researchers at the Dutch company MyEarth to have extra “hair” to pick up air pollution.

Testing Green Junkie in Amsterdam. Courtesy of Wageningen.

Testing Green Junkie in Amsterdam. Courtesy of Wageningen UR.

And while some grasses and ivy can potentially reduce nitrogen dioxide by 40% and particulate matter by up to 60%, scientists believe that the Green Junkie will have an even greater impact on the environment. Dutch company MyEarth explains that scientists use an organic fertilizer made out of plant waste gathered in Amsterdam to fertilize the plant, which in turn makes Green Junkie absorb more carbon dioxide. The fertilizer stimulates the plant to grow faster and makes the leaves larger and hairier – improving the plant’s ability to absorb pollution.

The brainchild of MyEarth, the project is a collaboration between MyEarth, Wageningen UR and The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute). The project has been in the making since 2015 and the past year has been spent testing the plant in labs; earlier this year, the team took the plant to one of Amsterdam’s most polluted hotspots to test it on the ground.

According to AMS Institute’s website: “The dense and longer hairs on the leaves of the Green Junkie are expected to capture larger quantities of particulate matter compared to other plants, thereby contributing to a better air quality for greener and liveable cities.”

“Plants are living organisms, and weather is so changeable, that’s something very difficult to simulate in the lab,” says Parry. “Out in the open, you might have kids kicking their ball against the plant, or maybe people will start picking flowers. It’s really exciting to see what will happen,” Emily Parry from AMS Institute told Fastco.

Although Amsterdam is one of the most progressive cities in Europe when it comes to cyclability, liveability walkability, the air quality in parts of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Maastricht breaks EU standards. Last month, Dutch parliament passed a law that bans the sales of gas-and diesel-powered cars by 2025.