Native Species Planting Guide for New York City

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How to Use this Guide

This manual is an information resource written to provide support for increasing biodiversity in

our natural ecosystems. The guide contains detailed information for the tolerances, preferences,

and value of over 430 native species. This information, where available, is intended to provide

assistance in choosing the right plants to increase biodiversity in ecosystems, and to further aid

in design for projects in these ecosystems. In addition to commercial nurseries, GNPC has plant

material and seeds for the species listed in this guide and can be used as a resource on public

projects. GNPC has an extensive propagation and growing operation for local native species

and can be an valuable source of native plant material. The guide is organized by plant type to

facilitate selection from a range of plant habits, from grasses to trees. It also consists of a

bibliography of plants and planting design guides appropriate for use in the mid-Atlantic region

and links to other helpful resources: lists of restricted and potentially invasive plants, guides to

salt tolerances of a range of plants, a guide to plants best used for stormwater capture sites,

and a list of plants appropriate for native landscape restoration, primarily in Forever Wild sites

and natural areas identified within Parks‟ system. These lists provide suggestions for planting,

and represent a near complete list of desirable or approved species. Specific site

characteristics, the input of professionals, and other factors, will, as appropriate, dictate planting

decisions. This information will be updated regularly, but it cannot substitute for the creative,

innovative, careful, and conscious choices made by New York City's landscape architects,

horticulturists, foresters, and other professionals.

Informed planting design involves a complex analysis and inventory of soils, hydrological

conditions, light, and exposure. The consideration of existing plants on site may provide

information on plant communities of native - and well adapted non-native - species best suited

to a particular site. Many areas within the parks system, however, are extremely disturbed or

degraded environments, and replication of native communities may not be the most effective

means of establishing vegetative cover. Soils may be composed of highly alkaline building

rubble, lack organic matter, or require remediation for various toxic substances before the

establishment of new plantings. Most manufactured topsoils are neutral or alkaline pH and if

they are introduced, this will also inform planting decisions. This guide provides information on

especially urban-tolerant species that may be capable of thriving even in the toughest planting


New Yorkers choosing plants for urban spaces are encouraged to learn about the way

ecological communities establish and grow, so that designed plantings will have resiliency and

ecological value, providing a full range of benefits to humans and other wildlife species. The

ideal design intent is for every green space to support a sustainable, robust plant assemblage

that gives value to the community.

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