Archivos de diario de enero 2024

28 de enero de 2024

About This Project

Hi! Thanks for checking out my project, Native Flora of Mannahatta and Welikia! :)


This project collects the wild vascular plants observed in New York City, as filtered by the 1193 species that constitute my modern taxonomic treatment of the native flora list of the Mannahatta Project (Welikia Project).

The Mannahatta Project, led by Dr. Eric W. Sanderson, is a triumph of historical ecology. It reconstructs the original landscapes of the island most know today as Manhattan, just prior to European arrival. To learn more, please check out this link! It's so incredibly cool the work that went into this project, its methodology, and what it was able to figure out and accomplish!


The Mannahatta Project culminated in the publication of the book Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City by Eric Sanderson (Abrams, New York, 2009). Appendix C of this text contains a native flora list. This list gives the 1194 vascular plant species that were likely (or possibly) to be found on Mannahatta in September 1609.

Botanical taxonomy has changed a lot since 2009. From 1/21/2024 to 1/27/2024, I tabulated all 1194 species, reorganized the list, and updated it based on my best understanding of contemporary botanical taxonomy. This was no straightforward process. Primarily, I used iNaturalist (or rather, the various taxonomic authorities that keep iNat up-to-date) as my guide, and that worked well enough for most cases. But I occasionally had to make taxonomic judgment calls of my own (e.g. the original Mannahatta list includes a willow called Salix exigua, but the modern notion of Salix exigua treats it as a species whose native range is limited to west of the Rockies; I made the judgment call to treat what the list called Salix exigua as Salix interior (syn. Salix exigua var. interior), as that is the "narrowleaf willow" whose traditional native range would likely have included Mannahatta. The original list also included Phragmites australis. I elected to treat this as Phragmites australis ssp. americanus in order to differentiate the native reed with the invasive Phragmites australis ssp. australis, the European reed, probably one of the absolute worst and most destructive invasives here in the northeast).

Through this process, I ended up with a native flora list of 1193 species (the reason it's one less than the original Mannahatta list is primarily due to the fact that the original list treated the orobanchs Agalinis paupercula and Agalinis purpurea as belonging to separate species, while modern taxonomy, including iNat's, gives Agalinis purpurea parviflora as a synonym of Agalinis paupercula; seeing as one is a subspecies of the other, I chose to conflate them and list them as a single species, Agalinis purpurea). A spreadsheet containing my treatment of the original list, including annotations of all the taxonomic changes I had the mindfulness to write down, can be found here:

I then specified, one by one, all 1193 species listed on this spreadsheet into an iNat collection project, limiting the observational range to the 5 counties that constitute NYC: the Bronx, New York County, Kings County, Queens County (represent), and Richmond County.


As a result, this project collects all those vascular plants that would have been present on the island in 1609 that are still being found in NYC today. This project encapsulates not only a profound connection to our city's ecological past, but a projected hope for its future. The Lenape, the rightful stewards of the land we know today as New York City, would have encountered these very same species in 1609. The fact that the majority of these species are still findable in the city today speaks to the incredible resilience of our ecology, even in the face of European colonization, genocide, and mass environmental destruction brought about by capitalism. Our city is wild. It's always been wild. And it will always be wild.


Please note that neither this iNat project, nor its creator, is affiliated with the Mannahatta Project, the Welikia Project, or any of the institutions that worked on it.

In addition, this project's creator is neither a taxonomist nor a botanist, and has received zero formal training in either. I'm simply an amateur with a burning passion for plants, and for my city - and a deep respect for how the former constitutes and transforms the latter. Please excuse any errors I made along the way!

Better yet, message me (sus_scrofa on iNat) if you have any corrections, questions, suggestions, or if you just want to chat!

Project icon:
A Symphyotrichum I spotted in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, tentatively keyed out to Symphyotrichum novi-belgii (New York aster).

Project banner:
A big field of Sporobolus pumilus (marsh hay cordgrass) I spotted at the salt marsh in Brooklyn's Marine Park.

Publicado el enero 28, 2024 01:40 MAÑANA por sus_scrofa sus_scrofa | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Mannahatta Revisited

This is a little story about my experiences with urban ecology and the incredible power of iNat to connect people and make stuff happen!!!!!! :D


For the vast majority of my conscious life, I've lived here in NYC. I love this city dearly. But until recently, I feel I haven't really gotten to know it. Not really. I've always known where to find the best bagels (pre-pandemic: Absolute, now: Popup), the best slice (Rosie's "bee sting", dont @ me), the best halal cart (I'll never reveal my secrets).

But before iNat, I didn't know a thing about the real city. The ecological communities that constitute the true bulk of NYC life, while us apes strut about as if we own the place (as if we possibly could). Our interspecific siblings, our partners in an immense, ancient, ever-changing system to which we are inextricably linked. The incomprehensibly vast and dynamic nexus that suffuses every sidewalk crack, every sewer grate, every human body with living, breathing life.

iNat opened my eyes to this world, and I'll always be thankful for it. For that alone I owe iNat so much, but also, for so much else too! Like, for example...


Last year, @tohmi very kindly messaged me on iNat and invited me to the Sixth Annual EcoFlora Conference, hosted by the New York City EcoFlora project ( - go check them out! They rule!). One of the talks at the conference was a great lecture, given by Dr. Eric Sanderson of the NYBG, on concrete ways to make the concrete jungle better for plants (and therefore better for people).

A full recording of the conference can be found here:
Dr. Sanderson's talk starts around 1:12:00.

After attending this fantastic conference, I was excited, galvanized, inspired. I wanted to learn more about the city's ecological history. So I started reading Eric Sanderson's book, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City (Abrams, New York, 2009). It's an incredible read! I highly recommend it.

The book reconstructs the ecology of Manhattan Island in the year 1609, just prior to European arrival. It even included a list of vascular flora thought to have been present on the island at that time! That's when I really got excited.

I was like: this list is amazing! What a spectacular resource! What an incredible effort of a decade of hard work and all the latest tools in GIS and landscape ecology! How amazing is it that we can look centuries into the past and perceive those same botanical communities that the Lenape, the rightful stewards of this land, would have seen in 1609!

I HAVE to do something with this list!!


And so I did.

I wanted the list to be tabulated. So I put it all into a spreadsheet.

I also wanted the list to reflect updated botanical taxonomy (a lot's changed since 2009). So I did my best to update the taxonomy too.

Finally, I wanted to understand how many of these plants were still present in the wild of NYC - and how many I myself have seen in the city. So I made an iNat project for it!

The project can be found here:
I describe the project in some more detail here:

And so that's just another way in which iNat has changed my life, connected me with wonderful people and amazing resources, and deepened my understanding of the city I call home.

Thanks for reading!

Publicado el enero 28, 2024 03:35 MAÑANA por sus_scrofa sus_scrofa | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario