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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Martian Sawgrass  
  Specialized variety of plant that is used to provide oxygen for space stations.  

The new Director of the Venus Equilateral station goes on a routine inspection of the "air plant" and what does he find?

"I found that instead of a bunch of machinery, running smoothly, purifying air, and sending it out to the various parts of the station, all there was was a veritable jungle of weeds... I had some workmen clear the weeds out."

It turned out that the "air plant" was - Martian sawgrass.

"What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?" shouted Channing. "... We breathe oxygen, exhale CO2. Plants inhale CO2 and exhale oxygen. An air plant means just that. It is a specialized type of Martian sawgrass that uses chlorophyll... We've spent years getting that plant so it will grow just right. It got so good that the CO2 detectors weren't even needed...
From QRM - Interplanetary, by George O. Smith.
Published by Street and Smith in 1942
Additional resources -

To save the station from bureaucratic stupidity, an immediate order for "as many oxydrums on the fastest ship they've got" was issued to suppliers back on Earth.

Also, in his excellent 1950 short story The Morning of the Day They Did It, EB White refers to this same idea:

Every subway rider knew that the two men on the [space] platform were breathing oxygen thrown off from big squash vines that they had taken along..."

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from QRM - Interplanetary
  More Ideas and Technology by George O. Smith
  Tech news articles related to QRM - Interplanetary
  Tech news articles related to works by George O. Smith

Martian Sawgrass-related news articles:
  - Elektron Oxygen Generator Versus Martian Sawgrass
  - CAMRAS Recycles Every Breath You Take
  - Fresh Veggies, Fresh Air For Mars
  - Man-Made Space Leaf Creates Oxygen From Water And Light
  - Space Synthetic Biology Grand Challenges

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