Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 4149–4164 | Cite as

Effect of plants in constructed wetlands for organic carbon and nutrient removal: a review of experimental factors contributing to higher impact and suggestions for future guidelines

  • João M. Jesus
  • Anthony S. Danko
  • António Fiúza
  • Maria-Teresa BorgesEmail author
Review Article


Constructed wetland is a proven technology for water pollution removal, but process mechanisms and their respective contribution are not fully understood. The present review details the effect of plants on removal efficiency of constructed wetlands by focusing on literature that includes experiments with unplanted controls for organic carbon and nutrient (N and P) removal. The contribution of plant direct uptake is also assessed. Although it was found that several studies, mostly at laboratory or pilot scales, showed no statistical differences between planted and unplanted controls, some factors were found that help maximize the effect of plants. This study intends to contribute to a better understanding of the significance of the effect of plants in a constructed wetland, as well as to suggest a set of experimental guidelines in this field.


Constructed wetlands Impact of plants Performance comparison Plant uptake Experimental guidelines 



The authors would like to acknowledge the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) for the PhD grant (FCT - DFRH - SFRH/BD/84750/2012).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • João M. Jesus
    • 1
  • Anthony S. Danko
    • 1
  • António Fiúza
    • 1
  • Maria-Teresa Borges
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Centre for Natural Resources and the Environment (CERENA), Department of Mining EngineeringUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Biology Department, Science FacultyPorto University (FCUP)PortoPortugal
  3. 3.CIIMARUniversity of PortoMatosinhosPortugal

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