Journal archives for July 2020

July 08, 2020

Volunteer plants in Carl Schurz Park

Carl Schurz Park is a particularly lovely city park which is about a mile from where I live. And I spend a fair bit of time there because I serve as something like a "consulting naturalist" for the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy. During normal times I give nature walks to the gardeners and do my best to ID plant pathogens and pests that are causing concern. I also helped them get set up on iNaturalist, and I try to record all the wild fauna and flora there, as well as some of the more lovely garden plants.

For my own interest, and in case it is helpful to anyone, I am gradually putting together a list of all the volunteer garden plants that I have observed within Carl Schurz Park.

These volunteer plants are garden plants of various kinds which were originally planted, but have subsequently self-seeded. They tend to multiply and spread (at least within the park) by themselves, without human assistance. As they reproduce and establish themselves naturally, these volunteers count as "wild" by iNat standards. Most of the time the gardeners pull out all the volunteers as if they were weeds, unless one or two of them happen to grow somewhere that the gardeners consider to be desirable, then they are left as part of the evolving garden plan.

Many of the Carl Schurz Park gardeners are not in town currently, and have not been around for two or three months, so this is a better time than usual to see volunteer plants, as some of these young plants are not getting pulled out as they normally would.

One reason I am creating this list is because a few days ago I found a volunteer of Oakleaf Hydrangea growing out of the retaining wall on the south side of the 79th Street Central Park Transverse (see photo below), and when I posted that observation, Daniel Atha @danielatha commented that he had never seen a spontaneous one before. I replied that I had seen (and photographed) several volunteers of that species in Carl Schurz Park, and also several volunteers in Bryant Park.

It is interesting that although the plants that I list here self-seed and create volunteers, many of these plants, most of the time, do not successfully escape cultivation completely. So although you find volunteers of these species in the park, and next to the park, you usually don't find them popping up randomly in wilder situations nearby.

So perhaps most of these species of volunteering plants need the somewhat privileged situation of a park (better soil, some degree of watering during droughts) to do well?
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Woody plants:

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Leatherleaf Mahonia

Eastern Red Cedar

Hibiscus syriacus

Goldenrain Tree

Quercus spp

Ulmus spp

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Soft plants:

Red Columbine

Fern-leaf Corydalis

Russian Sage

Asian Bleeding-heart

Purpletop Vervain

Woodland Tobacco

Spearmint

Japanese Painted Fern

Rattlesnake Master

Spider Flower
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Posted on July 08, 2020 11:23 by susanhewitt susanhewitt | 12 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment