snowy branches in the forest

Natural History of the Forest

On May 24, 1895 the northern portion of Bronx Park was chosen by a selected committee of the Scientific Board of Directors and cited in a letter to the board from Nathaniel Lord Britton as follows: ”Your committee would therefore recommend the selection of the northern end of Bronx Park as this site for the Garden, for the reasons that it combines all the desirable elements of ready accessibility, rich and varied soils, grand natural scenery, [and a] dense natural forest.” In 1898, the first checklist of plants living on the Grounds was published in the Journal of The New York Botanical Garden. This checklist was followed by many articles about the site, the Hemlock Forest, and the development of the Garden. The study of the region continued with local floras for the City of New York and its vicinity, geologic and soil surveys, and beyond. In 1924, the Olmsted Brothers reported: ”The most notable natural feature of the Botanical Garden, perhaps as a matter of botany and certainly as a matter of landscape, is the gorge of the Bronx River with its wild growth of hemlocks and associated plants, its picturesque precipitous slopes and ledges, its sense of remoteness and seclusion from the city and most of the works of men.”

Since the Garden’s establishment, Garden staff, visiting experts, and enthusiastic members of the public have studied the history, wildlife, plant life, geology, climate, soils, and ecology of the Garden. All of these studies have been performed separately and have never been documented in one place. As part of the new Forest Program, Garden staff and visiting experts are creating a Natural History of The New York Botanical Garden to document the physical setting, biota, ecology, management, and ethnobotany of the site as stated in the outline below. The site is defined as all natural areas within the Garden including the Forest, Twin Lakes, South Arboretum, portion of land between the Rose Garden and Bronx River Parkway perimeter fence, rock outcrops, etc. The goal is to study spontaneous nature at the Garden.


Flowering Plants