Street Plants

In the July-September number of The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society (145.3) there’s a survey of the vascular plant species of sidewalk plots in Brooklyn and Queens by R. Statler and J. Rachlin. Since most of you probably can’t get to the whole article yet, I’ll make a few notes about it.

Over a five year study of what I think most of us call tree pits, they identified 121 species in 94 genera in 37 families. Asteraceae (22 species) and Poaceae (grasses, 15 species) were the largest families. 69% of the flora were non-native species, versus 34.82% non-native species for the city as a whole. A single “healthy” marijuana plant was observed in Brooklyn (only one?).

This sentence jumped out: “No vascular plant species at either site were collected as voucher material since both sites are actively utilized by dog walkers.” A fact of life here, and well-stated: it’s the dog-walkers, not the dogs, who are to blame since they haven’t trained their animals to curb. The libertarianism of many a pet-owner is nicely summarized by their pissing on the commons.An example of a free-range urban tree pit. This one is particularly verdant, others may be hard-packed deserts with only the tree itself.

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