- Urban meadows accumulate significant amounts of PM.
- Meadows accumulate PM more effectively than traditional lawns.
- Level of PM accumulation is determined by meadow biomass and architecture.
- Morphology of herbaceous plants has little effect on PM accumulation.
- Perennial herbaceous plants are well adapted to urban conditions.
It has already been proven that trees and shrubs, can efficiently remove particulate matter (PM) from air. However, almost nothing is known about PM accumulation by herbaceous plants (grasses and forbs) found in urban meadows. Meadows, unlike trees and shrubs, can be located close to roads, one of the main sources of PM in cites. The aim of this study was to investigate the tolerance to urban condition and PM accumulation in the immediate roads vicinity of selected plants species in urban meadows. PM accumulation of annual and perennial meadows was compared with that of lawns. Results were interpreted in the context of species composition, biomass production, soil conditions and ambient PM concentrations. Of the species grown in annual meadows, the highest PM accumulation was found in Achillea millefolium L., Chenopodium album L. and Echium vulgare L., while Centaurea scabiosa L., Echium vulgare L. and Convolvulus arvensis L. accumulated the largest amounts of PM in perennial meadows. PM deposition on plants was positively correlated with a feathery leaf shape. For species in the annual meadows, a positive correlation was also found between PM accumulation and the wax content on plants. The presence of hairs on leaves, leaf size and plant growth pattern had no effect on PM deposition on plants. PM accumulation in one square metre of urban meadow was on average greater than that of lawn, regardless of meadow species’ composition, age and location. The greatest accumulation of PM was found in a perennial meadow with low biodiversity but the greatest biomass. It would appear that the biomass produced by meadows and canopy structure has a crucial impact on the amount of PM accumulated by meadow plants. The results obtained indicate that meadows could be an important element of nature-based solutions for mitigating air pollution in urbanised areas.