In 1998-2000, New York City Parks Natural Resources Group received an Environmental Protection Fund award from the New York State Department of State. This grant funded a project to propagate and restore native, endangered, threatened and rare, plant species.
Current locations of New York State listed rare plants were
researched and plants were located where populations still exist. An inventory of NYC rare plants was developed and the plants were mapped using global positioning system (GPS) receivers. The plant locations were incorporated into a GIS map layer.
Over the first growing season, seeds and cuttings of native, rare, threatened and endangered plants were gathered from local populations. Seeds were packaged and stored for over-wintering. Propagation techniques were tested and established, and plants were grown from the seeds or cuttings. Records were kept of the species and numbers of plants. The staff at the native plant center planted seed, watered, and transplanted seedlings from flats to small pots; larger seedlings were stepped up to quart pots and some to gallon containers.
In addition to rare plants, seeds of Spartina alterniflora (Saltmarsh cordgrass) were collected from local populations for NRG's salt marsh restorations.
Suitable sites were located for reintroduction of rare plants and augmentation of dwindling local populations. Reintroduced rare plants are being included in a GIS map-layer of New York City rare plants. The reintroduced plants are labeled as such on the map to distinguish them from naturally occurring populations.
In addition to New York State listed plants, numerous native plants were propagated. Many of these species are in danger of becoming rare or uncommon due to habitat loss and disturbance in New York City natural areas. These plants include forest understory species such as Maianthemum canadense (Canada Mayflower), Polygonatum biflorum and P. pubescens (Solomon's seal), Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla) and other species not propagated by commercial nurseries.
To date, rare plants have been reintroduced into Saw Mill Creek Park, Butler Manor-P.S. mitigation site the Teleport, and Clay Pit Ponds State Park (Staten Island), Marine Park (Brooklyn), Central Park and Inwood Hill Park (Manhattan), and Alley Park (Queens).