Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How Popular is the poplar tree?

Investigators of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) have succeeded in genetically modifying female Poplar trees for the decontamination of water and soil of the pollutant TNT (trinitrotoluene). This explosive, highly toxic and difficult to dispose of pollutant is a problem throughout large parts of Europe and the United States of America.

Deep rooted Poplar trees can reach down to aquifers to absorb water and pollutants deeper embedded in the land. Enzymes in the plant material converts the TNT in to a harmless substance mostly stored within the trees roots during their lifetime. Because the contaminant does not reach the leaf fallen leaves do not present a risk to grazing animals.Using female trees eliminates the risk of pollen from modified trees spreading to the wider environment. The decontamination process takes up to 15 years.

The highly explosive TNT is toxic to living organisms and very difficult to remove, there is no 100% effective method: 

"For the time is used excavation and incineration, an expensive and not very kind to the environment, "says Pieter van Dillewijn of the Experimental Station Zaidín. “There are other more economical methods such as composting, but its implementation is more limited and often without reliable data,” adds the investigator.

Once absorbed by the plant or when the tree dies the Dutchman believes that it would be necessary to remove the mature plant, including much of its roots, so the TNT or its derivatives do not return to the ground. Then incinerate the tree and thereby generate energy.


  1. Anonymous2:25 pm

    what is the best type of tree toplant in spain to provide fuel for log burners?

  2. Anonymous11:23 am

    we live in southern France and have 2 enormous Poplar trees, 1 ale, 1 female. The female is sending us crazy by producing great quantities of cotton which blow everywhere.

  3. We used to have this tree in our front yard, it was taken down by a strong wind storm. Fortunately , it didn't damage the house.

  4. This is a messy tree but I'm pleased that it is useful on contaminated land.