Central Park Flora

At the end of the summer of 2013, I participated in the BioBlitz in Central Park, organized by the Central Park Conservancy and the Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York.  There I met a botanical researcher from the New York Botanical Garden, Daniel Atha.  He and I co-led the plant team for the event. As we looked at plants with the students, we referred to a study done in 2007* to see what has been collected in the past.  I participated in that study and told Daniel I had been taking notes since then hoping to update the paper - corrections, new findings, etc.  He said the best way to do it would be to do the flora again.  A survey such as this should be done at regular intervals, perhaps every ten years or so.  We agreed then that the BioBlitz would be the beginning of the next floral survey of Central Park.

The goal of the project is to provide an up-to-date botanical inventory to aid on-going restoration, conservation, education and recreation programs and to document the flora for scientific, ecological and conservation studies.

This project is a collaboration between the Central Park Conservancy, the New York Botanical Garden and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Activities for the project include the collection of herbarium specimens, data analysis and public outreach.

Expected outcomes include the following:

  • A complete inventory of the park, peer-reviewed and published ten years after the previous study (DeCandido et al., 2007).
  • Rapid response to threats from emerging invasive plant species.

  • Original content for Central Park plant apps.

  • Training opportunities for interns, park staff, technicians and citizen-scientists.

  • Teaching opportunities for educators at all levels.

  • A website with photographs, maps, voucher specimens and collection details.

  • A permanently archived set of voucher specimens documenting the flora.

  • A complete DNA library of all documented species.

In this blog, I describe our collection days and share with you what we find and what I have learned. 



*DeCandido, R., N. Calvanese, R. V. Alvarez, M. I. Brown and T. M. Nelson. 2007. The naturally occurring historical and extant flora of Central Park, New York City, New York 1857–2007. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 134: 552–569.