More than Million Trees, Where is the Nature in PlaNYC?

November 20th, 2010

Doll’s eyes is the kind of plant you remember. Not in spring, when its small, starry white flowers are easily overlooked. The season when it shines is fall. About this time of year, its berries have ripened to a ghostly white with dark “eye” spots in the centers. Contrasted on a grape juice-colored stem, these striking fruits are hard to miss during a walk in the woods.

dolls eyes

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon scanning the moist forest floor of Cunningham Park, Queens, searching for this wildflower. I had seen it here years ago, growing in the shade of a sugar maple. Despite hours of searching, I came to the sad conclusion that doll’s eyes had disappeared from the park.

Small patches of its rich woodland habitat are still found within city boundaries, but the plant itself no longer grows here. This wildflower continues to populate neighboring areas in New Jersey, Westchester, and Long Island but it is likely now gone from the New York City portion of its range.

Read the rest of my Huffington Post piece

What Ed Norton Should Know for the UN Biodiversity Summit

July 27th, 2010

Actor Edward Norton is unhappy. He is miffed because although he had starred as The Hulk in an earlier movie, he was not cast as the great green hero in a follow-up film. Cheer up, Ed! You’ve landed an even greener role: United Nations’ Biodiversity Ambassador. As the former botanist for New York City, I know first-hand the importance of biodiversity. In fact, I’ll be hosting international diplomats on a tour of New York’s nature this fall for the UN’s Biodiversity Summit. Since we’re going to be colleagues, I’d like to help you prepare for your new role. Here are some things you should know…

Read the rest of my Huffington Post piece

NYC Wildflower Week

May 7th, 2010

Had a great time with Lloyd Miller of the Deedle Deedle Dees who sang some nature-themed songs for the younger set.  An amazing turnout – we had about 30 children participate!

Also did a tour of the native plant garden in Union Square Park.