Trees That Release Oxygen During the Night [7 Most Common Trees]

When it comes to replenishing the air we breathe, trees play an undeniable role. During the day, they photosynthesize, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. But did you know that some trees continue to emit oxygen even during the night?

Let’s explore this fascinating phenomenon and understand the critical importance of these night-time oxygen providers in our environment.

The Wonders of Photosynthesis and Respiration

  • Every green plant, including trees, relies on a process known as photosynthesis to convert sunlight into chemical energy. Through this process, trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
  • However, trees also respire, a process similar to how we breathe, which usually takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide.
  • During the day, the amount of oxygen produced via photosynthesis typically outweighs the amount consumed by respiration, resulting in a net oxygen output. At night, when photosynthesis is paused due to lack of sunlight, trees tend to take in oxygen through respiration.

Night-time Oxygen Providers

The process of photosynthesis in most plants typically occurs during daylight hours when sunlight is abundant.

However, certain types of plants and trees have adapted to photosynthesize at different times, including at night. These are the night-time oxygen providers – an exceptional group of flora that has evolved unique metabolic processes to thrive in specific environments.

Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM) – The Key to Night-time Oxygen Release

  • CAM is the unique metabolic process that allows certain plants to photosynthesize at night. This form of photosynthesis is particularly common among plants in arid and semi-arid environments, where conservation of water is vital for survival.
  • During the hot daytime, these plants close their stomata (the small pores in the leaves’ surface) to minimize water loss. At night, when temperatures drop and evaporation is less likely, they open their stomata to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
  • This adaptation allows CAM plants to optimize their use of available resources. Their unique photosynthetic rhythm contributes to their resilience in some of the harshest climates on Earth.

Peepal Tree: A Continuous Oxygen Provider

  • One example of a night-time oxygen provider is the Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa). This tree is native to the Indian subcontinent and is often found in regions that are subject to variable water availability.
  • The Peepal tree has adapted to release oxygen continuously, during both day and night, making it a unique player in the ecosystem.
  • This tree’s ability to perform photosynthesis 24/7 is linked to its particular stomatal behavior. Unlike most trees, the Peepal tree doesn’t close its stomata during the night, allowing for continuous gas exchange.

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Areca Palm: An Indoor Oxygen Source

  • Another plant known for its ability to release oxygen during the night is the Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens). Native to Madagascar, this palm has been widely cultivated around the world, especially as an indoor plant.
  • The Areca Palm’s ability to photosynthesize at night makes it an excellent choice for indoor environments, where it can improve air quality.
  • The Areca Palm is also recognized for its air-purifying qualities. It can filter and detoxify the air from various indoor pollutants, including formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene, making the indoor air healthier to breathe.

Orchid Cacti (Epiphyllum spp.)

  • Orchid cacti, often referred to as ‘queen of the night,’ are renowned for their night-blooming flowers. Found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, these plants have adapted to conserve water by using CAM photosynthesis.
  • They absorb carbon dioxide during the night and store it for use during the day, which enables them to release oxygen after dark. Their large, fragrant, and stunningly beautiful flowers open after sunset, making these plants a favorite among garden enthusiasts.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

  • The Snake plant, also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, is a popular indoor plant. Known for its air-purifying abilities, it absorbs toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde from the air.
  • The Snake plant uses CAM photosynthesis, which means it keeps its stomata closed during the day to reduce evaporation and opens them at night to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This makes it an excellent choice for bedrooms to maintain a fresh supply of oxygen while you sleep.

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Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)

  • Aloe Vera, widely recognized for its medicinal properties, is also a plant that releases oxygen at night. Originating from the Arabian Peninsula, it thrives in a variety of climates, especially arid environments.
  • Aloe Vera utilizes CAM photosynthesis, absorbing carbon dioxide during the night and releasing oxygen. Its ability to withstand harsh conditions and improve air quality makes it a valuable plant for homes and gardens.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

  • The Christmas cactus is native to the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil, where they grow at high altitudes. These cacti are called epiphytes, meaning they grow on trees in their natural habitats.
  • They follow the CAM pathway, keeping their stomata closed during the day and opening at night, which allows them to conserve water while still performing photosynthesis. Not only do they provide oxygen at night, but they also add beauty to your home with their vibrant winter blooms.

Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)

  • Spanish Moss, despite its name, is not a moss but a bromeliad—a perennial herb in the pineapple family. It’s native to Mexico, Central America, South America, the U.S., and the Caribbean.
  • Like other bromeliads, Spanish Moss uses CAM photosynthesis, enabling it to release oxygen at night. This attribute, along with its ability to draw nutrients from the air, makes it an intriguing addition to any indoor plant collection.

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Adaptations Beyond Oxygen: Why Night-time Oxygen Providers Matter

  • The importance of night-time oxygen providers extends beyond their ability to photosynthesize at night. Their unique adaptations contribute to their resilience, allowing them to survive, and even thrive, in challenging conditions.
  • These plants provide habitats for a range of fauna and can act as keystone species in certain ecosystems. Their ability to photosynthesize at night and in extreme conditions also positions them as potential solutions to combat climate change and desertification.
  • Indeed, night-time oxygen providers represent an important group of plants, whose value extends far beyond the oxygen they produce. They highlight the remarkable adaptability of nature and its ability to meet the demands of some of the world’s most challenging environments.

The Role of Night-time Oxygen Providers in Our Ecosystem

Having trees that produce oxygen at night presents numerous ecological and health benefits. For environments where these trees thrive, they offer a consistent oxygen supply that can be especially beneficial for nocturnal wildlife.

Furthermore, for urban settings, having such plants indoors can significantly enhance air quality. By producing oxygen and removing toxins from the air, these plants contribute to healthier living environments.

Trees That Release Oxygen During the Night


The mystery of trees that release oxygen during the night is a testament to the remarkable adaptations of nature. These trees not only provide us with a constant supply of oxygen but also enhance our ecosystems in profound ways.

As we strive towards creating a greener and healthier planet, recognizing and cultivating such plants becomes an essential part of our efforts.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do all trees release oxygen at night?

No, not all trees release oxygen at night. Most trees release oxygen during the day through photosynthesis and consume oxygen at night during respiration. However, some trees, like the Peepal tree and Areca Palm, have adapted to release oxygen even at night.

How do trees release oxygen at night?

Trees that release oxygen at night use a special kind of photosynthesis known as Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), where they store CO2 absorbed at night and use it during the day to perform photosynthesis without losing much water.

Why is it beneficial to have plants that release oxygen at night indoors?

Indoor plants that release oxygen at night can enhance the air quality of your living space. They not only produce oxygen but also help to remove toxins from the air.

Do night-time oxygen-releasing trees contribute to the environment differently than other trees?

Yes, trees that release oxygen at night can offer a consistent oxygen supply, which can be beneficial for nocturnal wildlife. Moreover, they can be particularly crucial in maintaining oxygen levels in arid environments where water conservation is essential.

Are there any downsides to trees that release oxygen at night?

While these trees can provide unique benefits, they aren’t necessarily ‘better’ than other trees. Each plant species plays a specific role in the ecosystem, contributing to biodiversity, providing habitat, and offering other ecological benefits.