Press Releases

Monday, February 26, 2007
No. 13

To Plant Or Not To PlantΑ New Yorkers Can Help Protect City Parks And Green Spaces From Invasive Weeds Threat

National Invasive Weeds Awareness Week is February 25- March 2, 2007

During National Invasive Weeds Awareness Week, the Department of Parks & Recreation reminds all New Yorkers not to plant invasive weeds, which are threats to New York City’s parks and green spaces. Invasive species threaten biodiversity and reduce the quality of habitat for the millions of animals that call New York City home. Invasive weeds, which are not native to the area, can take root in forests, parks, community gardens, and private home gardens.

"Invasive trees, shrubs, woody vines, herbs, grasses, or aquatic plants are unwelcome intruders," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "New Yorkers can help protect the City’s native ecosystem by knowing their species and refraining from planting invasive species in their community and home gardens. Over time, invasive species have the capability to disrupt the regenerative cycles of urban forests, with long term environmental and heath effects."

Parks & Recreation’s Natural Resources Group (NRG) leads the fight against invasive weeds. Its mission is to conserve New York City’s natural resources for the benefit of ecosystem and public health through acquisition, management, restoration, and advocacy using a scientifically supported and sustainable approach. Since its inception in 1984, NRG has acquired more than 1,600 acres of natural areas in the city, and rehabilitated another 950 acres of forest and wetland to improve ecosystem function and habitat quality for native flora and fauna. NRG also develops natural area management plans, responds to environmental disasters, prepares mitigation plans for public works projects, and conducts detailed monitoring and assessment of flora and fauna.

"During National Weed Awareness Week 2007, I'm proud to acknowledge the efforts of my staff, our Parks colleagues, and New York City's regional partners: the Long Island Invasive Species Management Area (LIISMA) and the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), for their diligent and long-term effort to battle invasive plants and their negative impacts collectively, with the knowledge that "Weeds know no boundaries," stated Director of Parks Natural Resources Group (NRG) Bill Tai.

Invasive species are sold in the City and are commonly added as ornamental interest to landscapes and gardens. Over an extended period of time, an invasive species planted in a home garden has the ability to spread to other natural areas, degrade land, and disrupt natural habitat. Unlike native plants, invasive weeds have no natural predators in non-native natural environments, which allows their population to grow unchecked. One invasive species is the Japanese Barberry (some varieties), which is commonly planted in gardens for its pale yellow flowers and bright red berries but which pose a severe ecological threat in natural habitats by altering soil pH, nitrogen levels, and biological activity in the soil, thus reducing wildlife habitat. Another invasive weed is the Purple Loosetrife, commonly planted for it’s beautiful purple flowers but which outcompetes and replaces native grasses and flowering plants in wetlands areas, thus forming a dense, homogenous clump and reducing habitat for waterfowl.

Invasive weeds have plagued New York City’s natural environment for centuries, arriving with the first migration of Europeans to the continent and currently transported through trade and commerce. Invasive weeds that thrive in the New York City are able do so because the City’s climate is similar to that of their country of origin. Many common invasive weeds in New York City hail from Korea, Japan, and parts of China, where average temperature, amount of rainfall, and rainfall distribution is similar to that of New York City.

National Invasive Weeds Awareness Week, sponsored by the Invasive Weeds Awareness Coalition, raises national awareness about invasive weed management and ecosystem restoration. In celebration of National Invasive Weeds Awareness Week in New York City, Parks is hosting invasive species mapping sessions in parks and participating in workshops and panels. For a "Do Not Plant" list of invasive species in New York City, please visit our website at

The Parks Department is affiliated with the Long Island Weed Management Area (LIWMA), whose members include The Nature Conservancy, National Park Service, Nassau County Parks, Suffolk County Parks, Brookhaven Lab, NY State Parks, Ducks Unlimited, and North Shore Audubon, as well as Lower Hudson PRISM, which includes The Nature Conservancy, NYS Parks, DEC, NYC DEP, Wave Hill, Hudsonia, Palisades Interstate Park Commission, NYC Soil & Water Connservation District, Westchester County, Scenic Hudson, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and several more.

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