Nature’s Air Purifiers – 5 Trees with the Highest Oxygen Output

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Written By Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

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Home » Ancient & Remarkable Trees » Nature’s Air Purifiers – 5 Trees with the Highest Oxygen Output

The amount of oxygen a tree can produce varies enormously with the species, location, climate, health, growth rate, and age.

Often, calculations are made on the Leaf Area Index because the greater the surface area, the more oxygen they produce. However, deciduous trees only produce oxygen when they have leaves, and coniferous trees produce oxygen all year but have a low Leaf Area Index.

However, we can still generalize about which trees produce the most oxygen.

Let’s take a look!

5 Best Oxygen-Producing Trees in The World

1. Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus species

Image of Eucalyptus punctata by Geekstreet, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Most Eucalyptus trees grow incredibly fast and often grow very tall. Two species are among the 9 tallest tree species in the world, and three are among the 9 largest trees by volume. As a result, they produce an enormous amount of oxygen.

For example, when fully mature, a 150-foot-tall Eucalyptus could produce over 900 lbs of oxygen annually. They produce less but still impressive amounts of oxygen when they are young.

Eucalyptus are mostly native to Australia, but they have been widely introduced and are becoming invasive species throughout the tropics and subtropics of the world.

2. Spruce Trees – Picea species

Image of Picea abies forest by Krzysztof Golik, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Most spruce trees are large and long-lived trees native mostly to boreal and north-temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, but they also grow in mountainous areas south to their limit at the Tropic of Cancer.

Even though their needle-like leaves have a low Leaf Area Index, they are long-lived trees and some of the tallest and most massive tree species in the world, so they have a lot of leaves.

Also, because they are evergreen, they can produce oxygen all year, unlike deciduous trees like the maple, although their production rate slows significantly in the coldest months.

3. Maple Trees – Acer species

Maple Tree - Old growth Bigleaf Maple Acer macrophyllum  tree
Image of mature Bigleaf Maple by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Maple trees are native throughout North America and Asia. They are relatively fast-growing trees, anywhere from 1 to an impressive 6 ft per year for some species. They also have a higher Leaf Area Index than most trees, so they tend to produce a lot of oxygen.

For example, a small 35-foot-tall Sugar Maple can produce 38 lbs of oxygen yearly. When more mature, that number increases. However, they only grow one foot yearly.

Silver Maples grow faster (4 – 6 ft per year) and produce even more oxygen. With its impressive 12” leaves, the Bigleaf Maple will also produce more.

4. Fir Trees – Abies species, Pseudotsuga mensiezii

Fir Forest old growth - Spipyus Park BC 2022-06-24
Image of old growth fir forest by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Fir trees are beautiful coniferous trees popular in landscaping and native throughout the northern hemisphere south to North Africa and Central America. However, they only grow in mountainous areas south of the temperate zone.

Many true firs and Douglas Fir trees are also massive trees. Some are even among the tallest and largest trees in the world, and they live a long time.

As a result, they have a lot of small needle-like leaves that can photosynthesize and produce oxygen even in the winter. So, they are also known to be some of the best oxygen-producing trees in the world.

5. Balsa – Ochroma pyramidale

Balsa Tree Ochroma_pyramidale
Image by Gabriele Kothe-Heinrich, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Balsa is an incredibly fast-growing tree native to the tropical Americas. It grows as much as 12 ft tall just six months after germination and averages about 16 ft per year for its short 30 – 40-year lifespan.

Since it has many large, broad leaves and grows so fast, it also produces an enormous amount of oxygen while sequestering carbon dioxide at a proportional rate.

Growing more of these sustainable trees and making furniture or other wood products with them could help offset climate change, certainly compared to logging virgin or mature forests to make similar goods.

Trees That Produce Oxygen Can Also Purify Our Air

With growing concerns about the changing climate and air pollution, we should be growing more trees where they naturally used to grow.

Building them into our city planning would make cities a cleaner place to live because, in addition to producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide, they also remove pollutants from the air. They truly are miracles of nature.

Even outside of our cities, growing more trees just makes sense. Why not plant a tree in your yard today?

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Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences. Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees. She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing. When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.

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