The Firefly Atlas is a collaborative effort to better understand and conserve the diversity of fireflies in North America. Launched in 2022, the project aims to advance our collective understanding of firefly species’ distributions, phenology, and habitat associations, as well as to identify threats to their populations.
Although the Atlas tracks all species described from the US and Canada, we are currently prioritizing efforts for a subset of 13 threatened and data deficient species found in three focal regions of the US: the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Southwest. These priority regions were chosen based upon having a high number of threatened species and/or a high number of data deficient species. – What is the Firefly Atlas?
The annual New York Restoration Project Tree Giveaway starts in a month. This year, they’re offering the largest variety of native tree, and some shrub, species I’ve seen yet.
Consider the mature size of each species. The larger trees will grow too large for most urban yards. I highlighted shrubs and smaller tree species that max out at no more than around 50′ high and wide, without considering existing vegetation, outdoor structures, etc. Your conditions will vary!
Shrubs and Smaller Trees
- Allegheny Serviceberry
- American Hornbeam
- American Persimmon
- American Plum
- Eastern Redbud
- Flowering Dogwood
- Highbush Blueberry
- Swamp White Oak
- Sweetbay Magnolia
- Washington Hawthorn
- White Fringe Tree
- Winged Sumac
- American Beech
- Bald Cypress
- Black Cherry
- Black Gum
- Black Locust
- Eastern Red Cedar
- Honey Locust
- Northern Red Oak
- Pin Oak
- Red Maple
- Willow Oak
Advance registration is mandatory. You select your preferred species when you register. Note that each location will only have 6-8 species. Some locations, especially smaller sites, are already “sold out” of some species.
Here are this year’s Brooklyn sites and pick-up dates.
- April 15: Red Hook Farms(Red Hook, Brooklyn)
- April 15: Wyckoff House Museum and State Senator Kevin S. Parker (Canarsie, Brooklyn)
- April 29: I.S. 318 Project Roots Community Garden and Councilmember Lincoln Restler(Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
- May 6: BPL Marcy Library and Councilmember Chi Ossé(Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn)
- May 13: BPL Brownsville Library(Brownsville, Brooklyn)
- May 20: Citizens(Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn)
Originally published as a Guest Rant on Garden Rant, November 4, 2009. Recovered from the Internet Archive. I replaced the photo snapshot with a link to the high-res photo on Flickr. I’ve replaced archive links with current, active links where possible. Those that have since link-rotted are noted.
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been making the news rounds for a few years now. It’s old, if still current, news. Dire outcomes from the loss of honeybees have been proffered. For example, PBS recently introduced an online “ask the expert” feature with this:
Since the winter of 2006, millions of bees have vanished, leaving behind empty hives and a damaged ecosystem. 
Really? The ECOSYSTEM?! Did they not notice that honeybees aren’t part of the ecosystem?
Honeybees are livestock. They are animals which we manage for our uses. We provide them with housing and maintenance. We even move them from field to field, just as we let cows into different pastures for grazing.
Perhaps, if CCD can neither be prevented nor cured, disaster would come to pass. However, the underlying cause would not be the loss of the honeybees but our dependence on them as a consequence of unsustainable agricultural practices.
The old ways of farming include hedgerows, uncultivated areas between fields. The biodiversity of these patches provide substantial habitat for native pollinators, as well as other beneficial insects. When even these rough “unproductive” patches of land are cleared, we set the stage for the patterns that have come to dominate agriculture: more herbicides, more pesticides, more machinery. All of these also damage the soil food webs that support both soil fertility and agricultural ecosystems. Although manufactured inputs provide temporary relief, they reduce the ecological functions of the land, requiring more and greater inputs to achieve the same effect. This is the definition of addiction, and it’s a clear sign that this way of doing business is unsustainable.
Why do we need to ship and truck pollinators around? There are plenty of native pollinators to do the job, where we haven’t decimated their habitats. There are 4,000 species of bees alone in North America. 226 species are known in New York City. Many of them visit my gardens in Flatbush, Brooklyn; some have even taken up residence . Many native bees are ground-dwellers which need only some open ground in which to dig their nests. When every patch of ground is cultivated, plowed under or paved over, native pollinators disappear. Suddenly, we “need” honeybees for pollination.
I care about the honeybees. I like my honey and beeswax candles. I support efforts to legalize beekeeping in New York City. But not at the expense of the biodiversity that is all around us, even in the city, if only we care enough to look for it, value it, and nurture it.
End of original guest rant.
All my Bees posts
Maybe I am more like Demeter, weeping for the hold darkness has over others, while reaching and hoping for a time when we can bring everyone back into the light.
– Standing Still 2021: Demeter Waiting
I write again for the solstice. The sun “stands still”, as do I.
I continue to grieve for the many lost to darkness, their own and others’. Though amplified over the past several years, it’s not new in my lifetime. From civil rights in the 60s to trans rights in the 20s, resistance and liberation are always met with hatred and violence.
Out of that grief, I am resolute.
I will not quench joy.
I will not subdue celebration.
I will not hide our light from darkness.
All my past Winter Solstice posts:
- 2021: Standing Still 2021: Demeter Waiting
- 2018: Standing Still in 2018
- 2016: Standing Still 2016
- 2015: Standing Still
- 2014: The Sun stands still
- 2010: From Dark to Dark: Eclipse-Solstice Astro Combo
- 2009: Standing Still, Looking Ahead
- 2008: Stand Still / Dona Nobis Pacem
- 2007: Solstice (the sun stands still)
As in past years, I’m limiting this list to northern North America for two reasons:
- Restricting this list geographically is in keeping with my specialization in plants native to northeastern North America.
- There are many more tropical plants, and plant extinctions, than I can manage.
In 2020, this paper:
caused me to expand my list from 6 to 59 species, including 7 extinct in the wild. The summary is terse, and grim:
Given the paucity of plant surveys in many areas, particularly prior to European settlement, the actual extinction rate of vascular plants is undoubtedly much higher than indicated here.
- Agalinis caddoensis, Railroad near Shreveport, Louisiana. last observed 1913
- * Astilbe crenatiloba, Roan Mountain false goat’s beard, Roan Mountain, Tennessee, 1885
- Astragalus endopterus, near Cameron, Coconino County, Arizona. Last observed 1947
- Astragalus kentrophyta var. douglasii, Washington/Oregon?, 1883
- Astragalus robbinsii var. robbinsii, Vermont, 1894
- Atriplex tularensis, California, 1891
- Blephilia hirsuta var. glabrata, Manchester, Bennington County, ermont, 1932
- Boechera fruticosa, Yellowstone, Wyoming, 1899
- Brickellia chenopodina, Grant County, New Mexico, 1903
- Brickellia hinckleyi var. terlinguensis, Brewster County, Texas, 1937
- Calochortus indecorus, Sexton Mountain, Josephine County, Oregon, 1948
- Calochortus monanthus, Yreka, Siskiyou County, California, 1876
- Calystegia seium ssp. binghamiae, Santa Barbara, California
- Castilleja leschkeana, Point Reyes, Marin County, California, 1947
- Castilleja uliginosa, Pitkin Marsh, Sonoma County, California, 1984
- Cirsium praeteriens, Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, California, 1901
- Corispermum pallidum, Washington, 1931
- Crataegus austromontana, Sand Mountain region and Cumberland Mountains, Alabama and Tennessee, 1916
- Cryptantha aptera, Grand Junctino, mesa County Colorado, 1892
- Cryptantha hooveri, California, 1939
- Cryptantha insolita, north of Las Vegas, Nevada, 1942
- Dalea sabinalis, Texas, 1950s
- Digitaria filiformis var. laeviglumis, Hillsboro County, NH, 1931
- Diplacus traskiae, near Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California, 1901
- Eleocharis brachycarpa, Tamaulipas, Mexico (1959) and Texas, 1834
- Elodea schweinitzii, New York and Pennsylvania, 1832
- Erigeron mariposanus, California, 1900
- Eriochloa michauxii var. simpsonii, Florida, 1966
- Govenia floridana, Miami-Dade County, Florida, 1964
- Hedeoma pilosa, Old Blue Mountain, Brewster County, Texas, 1940
- Helianthus nuttallii ssp. parishii, Orange County, California, 1937
- Helianthus praetermissus, Arizona (likely) or New Mexico, 1851
- Isocoma humilis, Washington County, Utah, 1971
- Juncus pervetus, Lewis Bay, West Yarmouth, Barnstable County, Massachusetts, 1927
- Lechea lakelae, Collier County, Florida, 1987
- Lycium verrucosum, Arroyo Cliffs, San Nicolas County, California, 1901
- Marshallia grandiflora, North Carolina, 1919
- Micranthemum micranthemoides, Mid-atlantic United States, 1941
- Monardella leucocephala, California, 1941
- Monardella pringlei, San Bernardino County, California, 1941
- * Narthecium montanum, Appalachian Yellow Asphodel, East Flat Rock Bog, Henderson County, North Carolina, 1919
- * Neomacounia nitida, Macoun’s shining moss, Belleville, Ontario, 1864
- * Orbexilum macrophyllum, bigleaf scurfpea, Polk County, North Carolina, 1899
- * Orbexilum stipulatum, large-stipule leather-root, Falls-of-the-Ohio scurfpea, Rock Island, Falls of the Ohio, KY, 1881
- Paronychia maccartii, Rio Grande Plains, Webb County, Texas, 1962
- Plagiobothrys lamprocarpus, Grants Pass, Josephine County, Oregon, 1921
- Plagiobothrys lithocaryus, Mayacamas Mountains, California, 1899
- Plagiobothrys mollis var. vestitus, Petaluma, Sonoma County, California, 1880
- Polygonatum biflorum var. melleum, Lake St. Clair, north of Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, 1937
- Potentilla multijuga, South Coast Ballona Marsh, Los Angeles County, California, 1893
- Potentilla uliginosa, Cunningham Marsh, Sonoma County, California, 1947
- Proboscidea spicata, Rio Grande, Texas, 1967
- Quercus tardifolia, Chisos Mountains, Brewster County, Texas, 2007
- Ribes divaricatum var. parishii, California, 1980
- Rumex tomentellus, Willow Creek, Mogollon Mountains, Catron County, New Mexico, 1954
- Sesuvium trianthemoides, Kenedy County, Texas, 1947
- Sphaeralcea procera, Deming, Luna County, New Mexico, 1943
- Tephrosia angustissima var. angustissima, Pine Rocklands, Florida, 1947 (1985?)
- * Thismia americana, banded trinity, Lake Calumet, Cook County, Illinois, 1916
Extinct in the wild (IUCN Red List code EW)
- Arctostaphylos franciscana, Central Coast, San Francisco County, California. Last observed in the wild 2009
- Crataegus delawarensis, Delaware, 1903
- Crataegus fecunda, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, 1930s
- Crataegus lanuginosa, Webb City, Jasper County, Missouri, 1957
- Euonymous atropurpurea var. cheatumii, Dallas County, Texas, 1944
- * Franklinia alatamaha, Franklin Tree
- Prunus maritima var. gravesii, beach plum, groton, New London County, Connecticut, 2000
Extinct Plants of northern North America, 2014-11-30
These are some of the Eastern North American species suitable for groundcover, most of which I have grown in my gardens over the decades. Some of these prefer shade, some prefer sun. Most of these will spread by runners, stolons, and the like, as “true” groundcovers. Others are effective as groundcovers because of their habit and crown expansion over time.
- Asarum canadense, wild ginger
- Athyrium filix-femina, lady fern
- Carex, sedges, hundreds of species, e.g.: Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania sedge
- Chrysogonum virginianum, green-and-gold
- Geranium maculatum, wild geranium
- Heuchera americana (sunnier)
- Heuchera villosa (shadier)
- Onoclea sensibilis, sensitive fern
- Pachysandra procumbens, Allegheny spurge
- Packera aurea, golden ragwort. Many other species native to North America.
- Phlox subulata, mosspink, for sun.
- Phlox stolonifera, creeping phlox, for shade.
- Sedum ternatum
- Thelypteris noveboracensis, New York fern
- Thelypteris palustris, marsh fern
- Tiarella cordifolia, hearttleaf foamflower
- Zizia aurea, golden alexanders. Also Z. aptera.
2009-05-11: Wildflowers in a Flatbush Backyard
2007-08-06: Growing a Native Plant Garden in a Flatbush BackyardWildflowers in a Flatbush Backyard
This list replaces the one I wrote 6 years ago.
Next Tuesday, September 20th, I will be the guest speaker for Green-Wood Cemetery’s Death Cafe. Next week is also Climate Week; the topic is “Grief and Gardening”, that title taken from the long-running series of blog posts here.
Listed below are my related blog posts, grouped by topic. For now, I’m omitting all the eulogies and remembrances for the deaths of family, friends, and pets.
Grief and Gardening: Ashes (Remembrance Day for Lost Species), published 2019-12-02, is one of my favorite writings on the subject of grief. It weaves together nearly all the topics below.
Remembrance Day for Lost Species Day, aka Lost Species Day, is November 30th. Many of these blog posts are on or near that date.
Grief and Gardening: Extinct Plants of northern North America 2021, 2021-11-30
Extinct Plants of northern North America 2020, 2020-11-30
Extinct Plants of northern North America 2018, 2018-11-30
Extinct Plants of northern North America 2015, 2015-11-29
Extinct Plants of northern North America, 2014-11-30
Grief and Gardening: A Dissetling Spring, 2020-03-19
Grief and Gardening: A Feast of Losses, 2020-04-06
Correspondence, April 2020, 2020-04-13
Grief and Gardening: The Defiant Gardener, 2020-05-06
I adapted some of what I wrote on the blog, and several of my tweets on this subject, for a short post on McSweeney’s: “Do Not Deny What You Feel“. The McSweeney’s piece was later picked up by YES! Magazine. Search for “Flatbush”. or “AIDS”.
Grief and Gardening: 20 Years, 2021-09-11
Grief and Gardening: Remains of the Day, 2019-07-11
Grief & Gardening: Nine Years, 2010-09-11
Seven years, 2008-09-10
In the Shadow (How shall my heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?), 2007-08-08
Grief & Gardening #2: Five Years After, “Ths Transetorey Life”, 2006-09-09
Grief & Gardening #1: 1, 5 and 25, 2006-09-04
Without God, 2001-10-15
This Week in History, 2001-09-14
Names, 2021-12-01 (World AIDS Day)
Off-Topic: The Conversation: 2016-03-12 (on Nancy Reagan’s death)
In the Shadow (How shall my heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?), 2007-08-08
2006-10-08: Grief & Gardening #3: Nihilism and Squirrels
Gardening Matters: The death of Takeo Shiota (Grief & Gardening #4), 2006-10-29
The Daffodil Project: Grief & Gardening #5, 2006-11-26
https://www.flatbushgardener.com/2007/06/28/grief-gardening-7-the-garden-of-memory/< Continue reading
2022-05-13 UPDATE: A second session is now available for Sunday, May 22, 12 noon to 2pm! Registration links below now point to the new event.
2022-05-09 UPDATE: Due to the rainy, windy, cold weather yesterday, we will be scheduling another session of this workshop for later this week, most likely for the afternoon of Friday, May 13th. Will update here when confirmed!
Sunday, May 22nd 6th, I will be hosting and facilitating a workshop on gardening for habitat with native plants in my home garden. The workshop is from 12noon to 2pm. Space is limited, so please register at the Eventbrite link below.
Learn how to garden with native plants to create wildlife habitat, even in small urban gardens. In this interactive garden tour and workshop, Chris will use his garden to highlight the importance of native plants for sustaining urban wildlife, and how to create and maintain a garden for its ecological value. With nearly 200 NYC-native plant species, and over 400 documented insect visitors, you are sure to learn something new and find inspiration for improving habitat wherever you garden.
Presented by Chris Kreussling. Chris is an urban naturalist and advocate for urban habitat gardening with native plants. He has led numerous native plant and pollinator walks and workshops, for NYC Wildflower Week, Wave Hill, the High Line, and others. His garden is a registered habitat with the National Wildlife Federation, Xerces Pollinator Society, and other organizations. He’s documented this ongoing transformation on his gardening blog, Flatbush Gardener and on Twitter as @xrisfg.
Insect Year in Review 2021, 2022-01-03
Hot Sheets Habitat, 2021-11-19
Documenting Insect-Plant Interactions, 2021-10-29
Presentation: Creating Urban Habitat, 2021-02-04
Home of the Wild, 2020-05-13
Pollinator Safari: Urban Insect Gardening with Native Plants, 2019-06-08
Charismatic Mesofauna, 2019-02-12
Pollinator Gardens, for Schools and Others, 2015-02-20
NYCWW Pollinator Safari of my Gardens, 2014-06-14
The annual City Nature Challenge (CNC) is this weekend, from Friday April 29 through Monday May 2. I put together a presentation on Slideshare with a brief overview of New York City’s participation in CNC.
I’m one of the Brooklyn Borough Captains for the NYC Battle of the Boroughs, a friendly inter-borough competition among the boroughs to promote CNC participation across NYC. Following is a list of all the planned events and participating greenspaces in Brooklyn. You can also find this list on the Brooklyn CNC 2022 iNaturalist Project Journal.
Friday, April 29, 2022
Calvert Vaux Park
CNC BioBlitz: Birds, Plants, and Pollinators!
Host: Torrey Botanical Society
Description: Calvert Vaux Park is an under-explored park in Brooklyn with several trails and a waterfront view of the Verrazano Bridge. The event will take place during low tide to take advantage of the exposed shoreline. Participants of all levels are welcome! Local naturalists with expertise in plants, birds, and insects will share their knowledge on the biodiversity of the park and how to make meaningful observations. The bioblitz will be led by Chris Kreussling, Jen Kepler, and other local urban naturalists.
Starting Location: [Pollinator Place Garden](https://goo.gl/maps/sZL2cotYE5vJ7cXt9), Calvert Vaux Park, near the pedestrian bridge over Shore Pkwy
Saturday, April 30, 2022
Ridgewood Reservoir (Highland Park)
Birds and Insects Walking Tour
Time: 10a – 12p
Host: NYC H2O
Description: Let’s put Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir on the map! Our first walk will be led by Ken Chaya – a consultant for the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), perhaps best know for mapping the location of all 19,933 trees in Central Park to produce the prolifically illustrated “Central Park Entire” map.
Plants and Herbals Walking Tour
Time: 12p – 2p
Host: NYC H2O
Description: Let’s put Highland Park and Ridgewood Reservoir on the map! Our second walk will be led by Jocelyn Perez-Blanco – a local educator, conservationist, and Herbalists Without Borders (HWB) NYC Queens Chapter Coordinator.
Registration: Via Eventbrite:
Sunday, May 1, 2022
City Nature Challenge: Green-Wood BioBlitz
Host: Green-Wood Historic Fund
Description: Join Sigrid Jakob and Potter Palmer, the project leads of Green-Wood’s Fungi Phenology Project, and Sara Evans, Green-Wood’s manager of horticulture operations, on a guided bioblitz.
Starting Location: inside the Main Entrance at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street
Fort Green Park
City Nature Challenge: Spring Blossoms
Host: Urban Park Rangers
Description: NYC Parks is participating in the City Nature Challenge and is recruiting you to help. Join the Rangers as we walk the park to observe and collect data for the City Nature Challenge, a friendly competition taking place April 29-May 1 between cities around the world to see which is most biodiverse. This program will focus on identifying spring blossoms. Participants are encouraged to download the iNaturalist app to collect data.
Registration: None needed. For more info, visit: https://www.nycgovparks.org/events/2022/05/01/city-nature-challenge-spring-blossoms
Starting Location: Fort Green Park Visitor Center
Monday, May 2, 2002
Prospect Park Nothing scheduled, but if you want to meet up for an informal CNC, let me know.
Parks and other Green Spaces
Other Brooklyn Parks and Green Spaces that are participating without any scheduled events:
City Nature Challenge
- 2018-04-9: City Nature Challenge 2018
- 2022-03-17: Torrey Lecture, Wednesday March 30
- 2022-01-13: Insect Year in Review
- 2021-11-19: Hot Sheets Habitat
- 2021-10-29: Documenting Insect-Plant Interactions
- 2021-09-13: iNaturalist Workshops, The High Line, Saturday September 25
- 2021-06-14: Native Pollinator Walks, Wave Hill, Sunday, June 27
- 2020-05-14: Home of the Wild
- 2019-06-08: Sunday 6/23: Pollinator Safari: Urban Insect Gardening with Native Plants
- 2018-08-19: Plant Blindness [Phytoagnosia] and Urban Ecology
NYC CNC iNaturalist Projects
- NYC CNC 2022
- NYC CNC 2022 – Battle of the Boroughs
- NYC CNC 2022 – Greenspace Race
- NYC CNC – All Years
NYC CNC iNaturalist Projects- Past Years
Battle of the Boroughs – Past Years
Parks and Green Spaces
It’s a busy season for me this Spring! NEXT WEEK is New York City NYC’s GreenThumb community gardening program annual conference, known as GrowTogether:
Part 2 of the GreenThumb GrowTogether conference will be hosted in-person in community gardens in all five boroughs in celebration of Earth Week. Join us for workshops about growing food, healthy eating, native pollinators, flower arrangement, planting seeds, screen printing garden swag, volunteer projects, and more. All the activities are free and open to the public!
… The theme of this year’s GrowTogether is “Deeply Rooted: Growing Community Connections.” Community gardeners from across New York City have been gathering at the GrowTogether conference each spring since 1984 to celebrate the start of the garden season with a day of learning, networking, and reconnecting with friends. – Ibid.
As noted above, all GrowTogether workshops are open to the public. Please register, as some workshops have limited capacity.
This is my first time participating in GrowTogether. I’ll be giving two different workshops on how to use iNaturalist, Friday in Brooklyn, and Saturday on Staten Island.
Friday, April 22
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(Rain Date: Saturday, April 23, same time)
Location: Vernon Cases Community Garden, 42 Vernon Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
iNaturalist is a community/citizen science platform where anyone can record their observations – photos or audio recordings – of any living thing anywhere in the world. Community gardeners and visitors can use iNaturalist to document and keep records about their gardens, such as flowering and fruiting times; identify and keep track of common weeds; and identify insect visitors, whether pests, predators, or pollinators.
In this workshop, we will use iNaturalist “in the field” to make observations of plants and insects and upload them to iNaturalist, creating a record of the biodiversity in a community garden. If you have access to a smartphone, please download the iNaturalist app in advance and bring it to the workshop!
Saturday, April 23
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
(Rain Date: Sunday, April 24, same time)
Location: Hill Street Community Garden, Staten Island
New York City is home to hundreds of species of pollinating insects. While butterflies and bumblebees are easily-spotted inhabitants of our community gardens, meet a few of New York City’s lesser known pollinators—including wasps, flower flies, and specialist bees— during this workshop with Sarah Ward from National Wildlife Federation and Chris Keussling (aka Flatbush Gardener). During a walk through the garden, participants will learn tips and tricks for observing pollinators and welcoming them into our gardens. Participants will also learn how to use the community science app iNaturalist to identify pollinators and contribute valuable data about pollinators in New York City.
Torrey Lecture, Wednesday March 30, 2022-03-17
For more information, or to register, for either/both workshop:
- Using iNaturalist for Community Gardens and Gardeners, Friday 4/22, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Vernon Cases Community Garden, Brooklyn
- Meet and Greet New York City’s Native Pollinators, Saturday, April 23rd, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Hill Street Community Garden, Staten Island