By partnering with dozens of organizations, businesses, and individuals, we produce and curate a wide range of resources during our signature week and throughout the year. Click the icons below to learn more.
There are 48 Forever Wild Nature Preserves in NYC’s five boroughs—more than 8,700 wild acres that include towering forests, vibrant wetlands, and expansive meadows. Almost every site is accessible by public transit, and many have trails, nature centers, and public facilities. At the website, you’ll find trail maps, driving and public transit directions, and descriptions of the preserves.
TBS offers free botanical walks from April through October throughout the NYC-metro area. These trips are for general study and monitoring of the flora within a park or any place of botanic interest. While most trips emphasize plant study, other aspects of natural history are also discussed. Not a hiking club so walking distances are not long. Attending the field trips is one of the best ways to get to know the local flora. Also our fiscal sponsor!
PPOW leads free walks for people of all ages throughout the island's many and delightfully varied natural areas. Experienced naturalists will point out plants and animals of interest. Protectors is also Staten Island's land conservation organization and has fought legal battles to save many local parks and forests, marshes and meadows.
Enjoy a virtual tour of Corson’s Brook Woods in Staten Island led by Marielle where you’ll encounter the early spring wildflowers that bloom the end of April before the trees leaf out. This beautiful forest is one of the many saved by PPOW!
Found from 18 to 22nd Streets east of the FDR, Stuyvesant Cove Park is green in the most literal sense with an ever expanding offering of plants that are indigenous to the region.
Almost all of the 150 native species in Brooklyn (the goldenrods, the flat-topped asters, the cute little blue-eyed grasses blooming in the meadow, as well as the moisture-loving pitcher plants and orchids, the lichens and bearberry of the sandy Pine Barrens) were collected within 200 miles of New York City and so represent local genotypes.
Wildflowers in the Field and Forest by Steven Clemants and Carol Gracie
The most comprehensive field guide for the northeastern U.S. and Canada, with descriptive text and range maps on one side facing pages of color photos on the other.
Illustrated Field Guide to Shrubs and Woody Vines of Long Island by G. E. Lotowycz and B. H. Conolly
This book focuses on the woody plants that most field guides gloss over. A welcome inclusion is the sub-shrubs, and the text reflects the changing nature of our natural areas through its listing of species’ frequencies and inclusion of naturalized exotics.
A Guide to Wildflowers in Winter: Herbaceous Plants of Northeastern North America by Carol Levine
A comprehensive guide covering nearly 400 herbaceous plants in detail, with briefer notes on another 200. Illustrated with beautiful, accurate line drawings with descriptions of fruit, stems, leaves, habit, and habitat to help identify the plant.
Biodiversity Assessment Handbook for New York City by Erik Kiviat and Elizabeth A. Johnson, American Museum of Natural History.
Includes habitat profiles of NYC's upland forest, maritime beach, grassland, freshwater swamp, salt marsh, freshwater marsh - all written by Marielle. She also contributed other chapters on cliff ferns and spring ephemerals.
Common NYC Seaweed - Great list of marine macroalgae - courtesy of Dr. Susan Hewitt
Gardening with Wildflowers
Books and Websites
Gardening with NYC Native Plants
This brochure gives an overview of gardening with local wildflowers including why garden with natives, lists of wildflowers for different garden situations and how to attract wildlife. Written by Marielle during her tenure as Plant Ecologist with NYC Parks. Download the pdf
Bringing Nature Home by Douglas Tallamy
The book that started it all. Dr. Tallamy's research draws a critical link between birds and the insects they feed their young in spring - specifically caterpillars. Caterpillars have very specific relationships to the plants they eat. Our native dogwood Cornus florida feeds dozens of caterpillars; the Asian species Cornus mas feeds zero. No native plants = no caterpillars = no baby birds.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Guides
Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants - Offers alternative plants for use in gardens, yards, and natural plantings; organized by: trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous plants, and grasses. Marielle is a contributor.
Going Native: Biodiversity in Our Own Backyard - Top designers show how to employ native species for wildlife habitats.
Great Natives for Tough Places - Helpd determine suitable native plants for challenging growing conditions. Marielle is a contributor.
Mistaken Identity? Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes: An Identification Guide for the Mid-Atlantic
An NYBG publication by Dr. Robert Naczi that facilitates correct identification of confusingly similar invasive and native plant species. View a pdf of Mistaken Identity here.
A Guide to Native Plants of the New York City Region by Margaret B. Gargiullo
Geared specifically for landscape architects, land managers, and restoration ecologists, this book offers practical advice on the indigenous flora growing in the metropolitan area. Filled with information gleaned from Dr. Gargiullo's years of field work as Plant Ecologist for NYC Parks.
Native Plant Nurseries
Nurseries in the NYC Region
Gowanus Nursery - Brooklyn, NY
A great resource within the five boroughs. The owner is very helpful and they have a surprising number indigenous wildflowers.
Catskill Native Nursery - Kerhonkson, NY
Herbaceous (perennials), shrubs & trees
Fort Pond Native Plant Nursery - Montauk, NY
Natives and non - a very large selection with excellent specimen trees and shrubs
The Plantsmen Nursery - Ithaca, NY
Trees, shrubs, vines, wildflowers, ferns - and a very nice website
Edge of the Woods - Fogelsville, PA
Over 300 species of nursery propagated native trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns, perennials and wildflowers
Greenbelt Native Plant Center - Staten Island, NY
The Center is the only municipal native-plant nursery in the country. It is a 13-acre greenhouse, nursery and seed bank complex owned and operated by the City of New York Parks & Recreation on Staten Island. The center has spent three decades raising specimens of the city’s indigenous flora for use in local restoration and replanting projects.
Botanical Clubs and Societies
Botanical Clubs and Societies in the NYC region
The oldest botanical society in the United States, they publish a peer reviewed journal and host talks by plant researchers and offer plant walks by knowledgeable botanists, including information on non-vascular plants like lichens and liverworts. Also our sponsor!
Amateur and professional botanists who share an interest in the plants and habitats of Connecticut and the surrounding region. They run field trips and host meetings.
Dedicated to the promotion of field botany and a greater understanding of the plants that grow wild on Long Island, New York. They host lectures and run field trips in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
A statewide non-profit organization dedicated to the appreciation, protection, and study of the native flora of New Jersey. Local chapters active across the state.
Dedicated to field botany and furthering the understanding of plants that grow wild in New York State. Also responsible for the very excellent NY Flora Atlas which maps the distribution of plants within the state and includes information on plant habitats, associated ecological communities, and taxonomy.
Dedicated to raising the public awareness of mushrooms in science, cuisine and more. Offering lectures and fungi walks. Not plants, but plant-adjacent.
The Forests and Wetlands of New York City by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers
An account of New York City before the City, the book chronicles the evolution of the city's topography, geography, and flora as humans began to settle and impose changes on the natural landscape.
Natural History of New York City: A Personal Report after Fifty Years of Study & Enjoyment of Wildlife within the Boundaries of Greater New York by John Kieran
A historical account of nature in New York City, published in 1959 and pulling from observations and written notations from previous decades. Adequately summed up in the subtitle, "A book for sidewalk naturalists everywhere".
Wild New York by Margaret Mittlebach & Michael Crewdson
Showing that New York is more than just the flash and dazzle associated with Times Square or the skyscrapers of the Financial District, this guide details biological sights of all five boroughs, with site recommendations for each.
Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Before the cultural phenomenon that is Braiding Sweetgrass, there was this book, Dr. Kimmerer's first. Mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world and NYC. This book is a beautifully written mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to understand how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings.
This book argues that the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial violence have shaped cultural understandings of the "great outdoors" and determined who should and can have access to natural spaces. Dr. Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. She also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.
Days Afield on Staten Island by William T. Davis
Originally written in 1894, the book provides a startling contrast to today's Staten Island, as it overflows with accounts of flourishing native orchids, wild mink, and flying squirrels.
The Power Broker by Robert Caro
Robert Moses completely reshaped the face of New York City, devastating much of the open space and native flora in the process. While he started the country's first state-wide system of parks, he also introduced many non-native species into the landscape (including the invasive Norway maple). This Pulitzer Prize-winning history explains why and how Moses' legacy still casts large shadows today.
Initiatives in New York City
Scientists at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden undertook the most comprehensive study ever of the plant biodiversity in metropolitan New York. Studying the vegetative changes in highly populated areas is critical to understanding the future of life in our rapidly urbanizing world.
This collaborative study examined whether local plant species maintained their genetic variability and population fitness. Results would inform management strategies designed to reverse these trends. Begun in 2008, the pilot program focuses on 34 species of plants that are infrequently found in New York City.
Scientists at The New York Botanical Garden summarized the status of the spontaneous vascular species (ferns and fern allies, gymnosperms, and flowering plants). From 1807 to 2018, 2,029 species in 160 families and 726 genera were recorded. Today 13% of the City’s flora is imperiled or extinct.
New York City has a rich diversity of native bee species. Unfortunately, when most people think of "bees" they picture the honey bee, an
aggressive, invasive species that lives in large colonies. Most of NYC's 200+ bee species are docile and solitary - the females live alone in
subterranean tunnels, the males camp out in flowers. Many of the
native bees are specialists, only collecting pollen from a single
genus of plant, and so need that host plant in order to survive.
NYC Beewatchers project examined New York City native bee and pollinator service distribution. It also produced this spiffy chart on identifying the most common bees and bee-adjacent pollinators in NYC. For current pollinator work, see NYC Pollinator Working Group, a network of organizations working collaboratively to conserve beneficial pollinating insects and the resources they need to survive.
The study was a collaborative three–year research project to determine if some native plant species are genetically adapting—evolving—to conditions on harsh urban sites such as brownfields and former landfills.
The All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory of Van Cortlandt Park is a long term initiative to document and identify all biological species living in the park. In addition, ecological research will be integrated with the application of community and ecosystem ecology.