Eastern North America Native Groundcovers

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
    Asarum canadense, wild ginger, growing in my urban backyard native plant garden and wildlife habitat, May 2016
  • Athyrium filix-femina, lady fern
  • Carex, sedges, hundreds of species, e.g.: Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania sedge
    Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Sedge
  • Chrysogonum virginianum, green-and-gold
    Chrysogonum virginianum
  • Geranium maculatum, wild geranium
    Geranium maculatum, wild geranium
  • Heuchera americana (sunnier)
  • Heuchera villosa (shadier)
  • Onoclea sensibilis, sensitive fern
    Onoclea sensibilis, Sensitive Fern, High Rock Park, Staten Island, May 2014
  • Pachysandra procumbens, Allegheny spurge
    Pachysandra procumbens
  • Packera aurea, golden ragwort. Many other species native to North America.
    Packera aurea (Senecio aureus), Heart-Leaved Groundsel
  • Phlox subulata, mosspink, for sun.
    Morning Glory: Phlox subulata
  • Phlox stolonifera, creeping phlox, for shade.
    Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox
  • Sedum ternatum
  • Thelypteris noveboracensis, New York fern
  • Thelypteris palustris, marsh fern
  • Tiarella cordifolia, hearttleaf foamflower
    Tiarella cordifolia, heartleaf foamflower, May 2016
  • Zizia aurea, golden alexanders. Also Z. aptera.
    Zizia aurea, Golden Alexanders

Related Content

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.


Documenting Insect-Plant Interactions

2021-10-29: Transcribed and updated my October 20th tweet thread on this topic. 

I’m an active contributor to iNaturalist. While I’m not a “super-observer”, I expect to surpass 11,000 Observations by Halloween, two days away.

Insect-Plant interactions are the majority of my iNaturalist Observations. I use the Observation Field: Interaction->Visited Flower Of to record which flowers insects are visiting, or lurking upon. Roughly 1/3 of my Observations use that field.

Partial Screenshot of my most recent Observations with the Visited Flower Of Field - 2021-10-29

Both the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Global Biotic Interactions database (GloBI) automatically import iNaturalist Research Grade observations with an appropriate Creative Commons license. I’ll use one of my iNaturalist Observations as an example to show how it all works together.

In August I photographed an Eastern bumble bee, Bombus impatiens, on New York ironweed, Vernonia noveboracensis growing in my garden in front of my garage. Check out those bustling pink corbicula (pollen baskets)!

*Bombus impatiens* on *Vernonia noveboracensis* in front of my garage, August 2021

I uploaded that to iNaturalist as an Observation, and added the Observation Field “Interaction->Visited flower of: Vernonia noveboracensis New York Ironweed”.

Partial Screenshot of my an Observation of Bombus Impatiens on NY ironweed

To make my Observations accessible for import into scientific databases, I assign the Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) to my iNaturalist Observations. Since enough time has passed since it reached iNaturalist Resarch Grade status, the Observation has since been imported into both GBIF and GloBI.

Partial Screenshot of Data Quality Assessment section of an iNaturalist Observation showing exports to GBIF and GloBI

The iNaturalist Observation becomes a GBIF Occurrence. All fields are transcribed from iNat to corresponding GBIF fields, with some values interpreted, e.g.: GPS coordinates are rounded, GBIF Occurrence Status = “PRESENT”.

To also make it into GloBI, the iNaturalist Observation also has to have one or more Observation Fields that GloBI recognizes. Per GloBI’s “Contribute” page, their GitHub repo maps iNaturalist Observation Fields to GloBi’s “Interaction Type”. Any of the listed iNat Fields show up in GloBi with the corresponding “Interaction Type”. There are already >170!

Partial Screenshot of GloBI GitHub Repo iNaturalist mapping CSV file - 2021-10-29

For example, Row 45 of that table shows that the iNaturalist Observation Field “Interaction: Visited flower of” corresponds to the GlobalBiotic Interaction Type “visits flowers of”.

The GloBI link on my original iNaturalist Observation lists all iNat obs showing that:

  • Bombus impatiens
  • visits flowers of
  • Vernonia noveboracensis

I seem to be the only person to have documented this interaction on iNat!

Related Content


Data Sources

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
Global Biotic Interactions (GloBI)

Collections Management

Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio)
Symbiota Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN): provides a web-based collections database system for those that want to curate their data directly in SCAN and serve data to GBIF.

Data Standards

Biodiversity Information Standards (formerly known as the Taxonomic Databases Working Group, TDWG):

  • develops, ratifies and promotes standards and guidelines for the recording and exchange of data about organisms
  • and acts as a forum for discussing all aspects of biodiversity information management through meetings, online discussions, and publications.

TDWG Biological Interaction Data Interest Group, GitHub Repo: https://github.com/tdwg/interaction
Darwin Core (DWC): Maintained by TDWG, a standard glossary of terms intended to facilitate the sharing of information about biological diversity by providing identifiers, labels, and definitions. Darwin Core is primarily based on taxa, their occurrence in nature as documented by observations, specimens, samples, and related information.
The Relations Ontology (RO) captures many species interaction terms (e.g., purl.obolibrary.org/obo/RO_0002455)

Darwin Core Resource Relationship Extension

Emerald Ash Borer Discovered in Prospect Park

Terrible news.

Until this announcement, Agrilus planipennis, emerald ash borer, or EAB for short, had been found throughout New York state, but the locations closest to NYC were in Westchester County. This is quite a leap. One of the ways invasive forest pests get spread is through moving firewood. I wonder if that was the case here.

I live 1/2 mile south of Prospect Park. I am going to visit the ash trees in my neighborhood. They may not be here next year.

Press release from Prospect Park Alliance, 2017-10-27:

Today, the New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) confirmed the first-ever discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in New York City in Prospect Park. Of an initial survey of 10 suspected trees in Prospect Park by Prospect Park Alliance—the non-profit that cares for the Park in partnership with the City, three were confirmed to be infested by this invasive pest by a Cornell University researcher.

Prospect Park Alliance has removed three trees to date that succumbed to this infestation, located along the Ocean Avenue perimeter of the Park, and additional affected trees in this area will be removed over the winter. NYC Parks, DEC, DAM and Prospect Park Alliance are taking immediate action to limit the spread of infestation and protect New York City’s more than 51,000 ash trees.

“The Emerald Ash Borer infestation was detected in Prospect Park thanks to vigilant monitoring of the tree population by Prospect Park Alliance arborists, a year-round tree crew committed to the protection and preservation of the Park’s 30,000 trees,” said John Jordan, Director of Landscape Management for Prospect Park Alliance. “The Alliance will continue to monitor ash trees in the Park, and will work closely with New York City Parks Department, USDA and DEC to continue tracking and responding to this infestation.”

EAB is a non-native species of beetle whose larvae kill trees by burrowing into the inner bark and thus interrupting the circulation of water and vital nutrients. EAB-infested trees are characterized by thin crowns, sprouts on the trunks of the trees, and the signature d-shaped exit holes adult beetles leave on trees’ bark. EAB only affects ash trees, which constitute roughly three percent of NYC’s street trees. EAB has been present in New York State since 2009.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently awarded a $75,000 Urban Forestry Grant to the Prospect Park Alliance to conduct a tree inventory of Prospect Park. The inventory will include an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 trees in the landscaped areas of the park, representing about half of the total population. The tree inventory will include an invasive insect, pest, and disease detection survey by incorporating the USDA Forest Service early pest detection protocol (IPED).

Thank you to Jessica Katz who posted this to several NYC gardening groups, which is how I learned of it.

Exhibit on Agrilus planipennis, emerald ash borer, from the Onondaga County Cornell Cooperative Extension at the 2012 New York State Fair.
EAB Exhibits

Related Content


Remembering Sandy, Five Years Later

Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 113th & 114th Streets, Rockaway Park, Queens, November 4, 2012Rockaway Beach Boulevard, between Beach 113th & 114th Streets, Rockaway Park, Queens, November 2012

The storm surge flooded this block to at least five feet. Fire broke out and was quickly spread by 80-mph winds. These buildings burned down to the water line.

This was the site of a heroic rescue by FDNY Swift Water Team 6 and other firefighters attached to this unit for rescues during the storm. Firefighters Edward A. Morrison and Thomas J. Fee received awards for their actions during these rescues.

Investigators later determined this fire was caused by downed electrical wires falling onto 113-18 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. 16 homes were destroyed by the fire.

There was worse destruction than this on Beach 130th Street, between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach Channel Road. That fire started at 239 Beach 129 St. and destroyed 31 buildings.

Related Content


Local Leafin’: Street Tree Walking Tour Sunday 10/24

Japanese Maple leaves (red), with Linden in the background (yellow), at the corner of Rugby Road and Cortelyou Road in Beverley Square West, Flatbush, Brooklyn, November 2007.
Japanese Maple Leaves, P.S. 139, Beverley Square West, Brooklyn

The Sustainable Flatbush Fall 2010 Street Tree Walking Tour will be this Sunday, October 24. Tours begin at 11am and 12noon. I’m proud to once again be one of your guides. Your other guide will be Sam Bishop, Director of Education of Trees NY. As in the past, tours will start at Sacred Vibes Apothecary, our other community partner. This is also listed as a NeighborWoods Month event.

After a dry summer, October brought ample rains just in time to salvage some fall foliage. Dogwoods, Locusts, and Ash Trees are showing strong color. The neighborhood should be at near-peak foliage conditions for the year for the tour.

On the tour, you can see:

  • Acer platanoides, Norway Maple
  • Aesculus hippocastanum, Horsechestnut
  • Amelanchier, Serviceberry
  • Betula nigra, River Birch
  • Cercis canadensis, Redbud
  • Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood
  • Cryptomeria japonica, Japanese Red Cedar
  • Fraxinus americana, White Ash
  • Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo
  • Gleditsia triacanthos, Honey Locust
  • Liquidambar styraciflua, Sweetgum
  • Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Dawn Redwood
  • Pinus strobus, White Pine
  • Platanus x acerifolia, London Plane
  • Pyrus calleryana, Flowering Pear, Callery Pear
  • Quercus palustris, Pin Oak
  • Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’, Columnar English Oak
  • Sophora japonica, Japanese Pagoda Tree, Scholar Tree
  • Tsuga canadensis, Eastern Hemlock
  • Ulmus americana, American Elm

… and many more.


View Sustainable Flatbush Fall 2010 Street Tree Walking Tour in a larger map

Press Release

Brooklyn, NY October 17, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ever wanted to leaf peep without leaving NYC? The Sustainable Flatbush 2nd Annual Fall Street Tree Walking Tour is a perfect opportunity to enjoy beautiful — and local — fall foliage in Brooklyn’s historic Victorian Flatbush! The neighborhood is filled with an incredible variety of breathtaking street trees—including some that are more than 100 years old! This year, our tree-expert tour guides will be Sam Bishop of Trees NY and neighborhood resident Chris Kreussling, aka Flatbush Gardener.

Throughout the tour, your street tree guide will…

  • identify trees and their characteristics
  • share interesting facts
  • explore local tree history
  • discuss the beneficial role of street trees in the urban environment
  • explain basics of street tree stewardship

and much more!

Tours start at Sacred Vibes Apothecary, 376 Argyle Road, just south of Cortelyou Road.

Take the Q train to Cortelyou Road and walk west after exiting the station toward Argyle Road. As a reminder, check the MTA website for schedule and service advisories before you head out.

Tours depart at 11:00 AM and 12:00 NOON.
Tours take about 2 hours to complete and are 1 mile in length.
This is a rain or shine event — please dress for the weather!

Suggested Donation: $5

CONTACT: info@sustainableflatbush.org / (718) 208-0575

Sustainable Flatbush brings neighbors together to mobilize, educate,
and advocate for sustainable living in our Brooklyn neighborhood and
beyond. For more information, please visit http://sustainableflatbush.org

[goo.gl GMAP]

Related Content

Previous Tree Tour Posts:

Factoids: Street Trees and Property Values, December 2, 2007
Factoids: NYC’s Street Trees and Stormwater Reduction, November 15, 2007
Basic Research: The State of the Forest in New York City, November 12, 2007

Albemarle Road, Local Landscape


Sustainable Flatbush
Sacred Vibes Apothecary
Trees NY
NeighborWoods Month

Community Gardens Town Hall Meeting, Saturday, 10/2

This event is also listed on Facebook and EventBrite.

Saturday, October 2
12:00pm – 4:00pm

The New School – Wollman Hall
66 W. 12th St, 5th Floor
New York, NY

On October 2, 2010, the New York City Community Garden Coalition will convene a Town Hall Meeting to discuss the recently published “new rules” for community gardens on City land set to go into effect on October 13, 2010, as well as look to alternative legal strategies for long-term preservation.

While media reports have characterized the Coalition’s opinion of the rules as favorable, NYCCGC has officially held comment, …and has been meeting with Coalition members, conferring with other greening groups, and consulting with legal experts to fully assess the scope and impact of the recently updated rules.

“We held comment on the new rules for a reason,” says NYCCGC President Karen Washington. “The far-reaching impact of these rules is not something to be taken lightly, and needs to be analyzed thoroughly. While we appreciate that steps in the right direction have been made, there are still some serious concerns that need to be addressed before we claim total victory for the City’s community gardeners.”

While NYCCGC had originally been involved with the drafting of the new rules, negotiations eventually broke off, leaving the Coalition and its allies frustrated. On the morning of August 10, NYCCGC rallied supporters, helping fill Parks’ public hearing regarding the rules to overflow capacity. Over 300 garden devotees shared their passion as well as their consternation at the then-proposed rules, ultimately having a positive impact on the recently published rules.

One revelation that came to light at the hearing was from Christopher Amato, who served as lead attorney in the NY State Attorney General’s 2002 landmark lawsuit against the City, is that all 198 community gardens transferred to Parks (and more since then) were permanently protected by the 2002 “Community Gardens Agreement,” which he also helped author.

12:00pm – 2:00pm: The first half of the Town Hall meeting will include an introduction to the current state of community garden affairs, followed by analysis of the new rules governing community gardens on city-owned land by several experts in the field of environmental justice.

2:00pm – 4:00pm: The second half of the event will be devoted to looking above and beyond the new rules: the pervasive sentiment, shared by supporters including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Christina Grace of the NYS Office of Community Gardens, is that true permanency for the gardens lies in legislation. Several legal strategies will be discussed; the Coalition is urging all elected local and state representatives with an interest in this important environmental justice issue to attend.

Both sessions will conclude with comments from invited greening groups, and an open question & answer period.

Related Content

Community Gardens


Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG): Community Garden Alliance
New York City Community Garden Coalition

Citizen Pruner Training Fall Schedule

The London Plane Tree in front of my house.
London Plane Tree, Street Tree, Stratford Road

TreesNY’s Citizen Pruner Tree Care Course is being offered in Brooklyn and Manhattan this season, covering basic tree biology, street tree identification and care. Upon successful completion of the final exam, participants receive a license that certifies them to legally prune trees owned by the City of New York. In New York City where there is limited money for tree maintenance but significant need, Citizen Pruners provide a tremendous benefit to our urban environment.

The twelve hour course consists of four weekly two-hour classes and four hours of hands-on experience in the field. Participants may miss up to one classroom session. The weekend field outing is mandatory. Specific dates vary by location. Locations and Dates for classes in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island are still to be determined.

The course fee is $100 and includes a comprehensive manual and other materials. Course fee is non-refundable.You can register and pay online with Visa, Mastercard or Discover. To pay by check, make your check payable to Trees New York, and indicate the course location on the check


Brooklyn Borough Hall
Borough President’s Conference Room
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Wednesdays, 6-8pm, Sep 15, 22, 29 and October 6, 6 – 8 PM
Saturday, October 2, 10 AM – 2 PM

Downtown Manhattan

51 Chambers Street, Room #501
New York, NY 10007
Thursday, September 23 & 30, and October 7 & 14, 6-8pm
Saturday, October 9, 10am-2pm

Uptown Manhattan

The Arsenal in Central Park, Third Floor
830 Fifth Avenue, at 64th Street
New York, NY 10065
Mondays, Oct 18 & 25, and November 1 & 8, 6-8pm
Saturday, November 6, 10am-2pm

Related Content

About Trees NY

Trees New York is an environmental and urban forestry nonprofit organization. Our mission is to plant, preserve and protect New York City’s urban forest through education, active citizen participation and advocacy.

Trees New York • 51 Chambers Street, Suite 1412A • New York, NY 10007 • (212) 227-1887 • www.treesny.org • info@treesny.org

We Are the Champion … Trees!

Via Press Release from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Brooklyn, New York—October 26, 2009—On Tuesday, October 27 at 2:45 p.m., the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will award two trees at Brooklyn Botanic Garden “State Champion” status, affirming that they are the largest of their species on record in the state. The trees, a Kansas hawthorn (Crataegus coccinoides) and a Carolina holly (Ilex ambigua var. monticola) are the first trees in New York City to receive this honor. Only native or naturalized, nonhybrid species are eligible for champion designation. These specimens were nominated by a private citizen and their dimensions verified by the DEC.

At the presentation, which will take place in the shade of one of the champion trees, Brooklyn Botanic Garden president Scot Medbury and DEC regional director Suzanne Mattei will make remarks, and educators from the DEC will lead a group of students from BBG’s affiliated high school, Brooklyn Academy for Science and the Environment, in a workshop on the techniques used to measure big trees.

For more information on the New York State Big Tree Register and champion status, please visit www.dec.ny.gov/animals/5248.html. For more information on big trees at BBG, please visit bbg.org/exp/bigtrees/info/what.html.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | 2:45 p.m.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn
2/3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum or B/Q to Prospect Park

To arrange press credentials for the award ceremony, please contact Kate Blumm, BBG Communications Manager, at 718-623-7241 or kblumm@bbg.org.

Saturday, October 24: Meet the Trees

Fraxinus americana, White Ash, one of the street trees that will be on the tour.
Fraxinus americana, White Ash, 1216 Beverly Road

On Saturday, October 24, Sustainable Flatbush will host its first Fall Street Tree Walking Tour. And I’m looking forward to once again be one of the guides for the tour.


Brooklyn, NY October 16, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009—Rain or Shine

Based on the success of the annual walking tour events in celebration of Arbor Day and spring in bloom, Sustainable Flatbush is now introducing the inaugural Fall Street Tree Walking Tour. The tour guides will be Tracey Hohman, professional gardener, and Chris Kreussling, aka Flatbush Gardener, both neighborhood residents.

Sustainable Flatbush Street Tree Walking Tour, Arbor Day 2009. That’s me in the middle, next to the tree. Photo by Keka

Throughout the tour, your street tree guide will:

  • identify trees and their characteristics
  • share interesting facts
  • explore local tree history
  • discuss the many ways street trees benefit the environment
  • explain how to obtain and care for street trees
  • and much more!

This free event is a perfect opportunity to visit Victorian Flatbush in the heart of Brooklyn and experience the neighborhood’s breathtaking street trees—including some that are more than 100 years old!

Tours start at Sacred Vibes Apothecary, 376 Argyle Road, just south of Cortelyou Road

View Sustainable Flatbush Fall 2009 Street Tree Walking Tour in a larger map


  • Take the Q train to Cortelyou Road Station and walk west after exiting the station toward Argyle Road.
  • Buses that stop on or near Cortelyou Road include the B23, B103, B68, and BM1,2,3,4 and x29 express busess.
  • As a reminder, check the MTA website for schedule and service advisories before you head out.

Tours depart at 11:00 AM and 12:00 NOON.
Tours take about 2 hours to complete and are 1 mile in length.
This is a rain or shine event – please dress for the weather!

For more information, please contact Sustainable Flatbush

Foliage Report

The New York State Fall Foliage Report for the week of October 14-20 is reporting that NYC is “just changing.”

FoliageMap 20091016

I can confirm that, with Dogwoods, White Ash and now Locust trees all in full color. Sweet Gum and Oaks are starting to turn. If cooler weather persists through the week, peak colors will probably arrive just in time for Halloween on the 31st. Still, there should be lots of color for us to enjoy on the 24th.

A Japanese Maple on Marlborough Rad in Prospect Park South, part of the tour, November 2007
196 Marlborough Road, Prospect Park South


Related Content

Fall Approaches, 2009-09-26


Fall Foliage Walking Tour October 24th!, Sustainable Flatbush