Plants (Rochester-area flora)

An integral part of our city's environment are our plants, forests, woodlands, urban forests, farming, and agriculture in the Rochester, NY area.  As with many other aspects of our environment, Climate Change is going to disrupt our flora.  

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Page Contents: Plants NewsLinks | Plants & Climate Change Plants and Soil Education |Official Plants Resources | Non-official Plant Resources


plants iconClimate Change will affect our plants and forests.  Here's and example: "Hemlock Stands Eastern hemlock, another conifer species, is a longlived, shade-tolerant tree that serves an important role in the mature forests of the Northeast. It often dominates stream banks in the southern parts of the region, providing dense shade that cools streams and creates favorable habitat for native brook trout. Hemlock faces a double threat from climate change: suitable habitat is projected to decline dramatically across the region by the end of the century, and warming will enhance the northward spread of the hemlock woolly adelgid, a non-native insect that has destroyed hemlock stands from Georgia to Connecticut. " (Page 54, Confronting Climate Change in the U.S. Northeast from Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (2007)  


If you’re thinking that Climate Change is going to give us in the Rochester, NY region a longer growing season, you’re right.  But it’s going to get complicated: Weeds may fare better. Agricultural pests will thrive in warmer climate, which means we’ll dump more pesticides on our crops, which will compromise our environment more.  Also, the warming won’t be gradual, instead it will come with frosts that come and go quickly, less snowpack to protect our soil in really cold spells, and heavy rainfall in the spring often in torrents causing more flooding and soil erosion. Check this out: "The length of the growing season in any given region refers to the number of days when plant growth takes place. The growing season often determines which crops can be grown in an area, as some crops require long growing seasons, while others mature rapidly. Growing season length is limited by many different factors. Depending on the region and the climate, the growing season is influenced by air temperatures, frost days, rainfall, or daylight hours. Changes in the length of the growing season can have both positive and negative effects. Moderate warming can benefit crop and pasture yields in midto high-latitude regions, yet even slight warming decreases yields in seasonally dry and low-latitude regions.14 A longer growing season could allow farmers to diversify crops or have multiple harvests from the same plot. However, it could also limit the types of crops grown, encourage invasive species or weed growth, or increase demand for irrigation. A longer growing season could also disrupt the function and structure of a region’s ecosystems and could, for example, alter the range and types of animal species in the area." (Page 66, Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2012 From 2ND EDITION Climate Change Indicators in the United States EPA)



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Plant studies and reports related to Climate Change in our region

Climate Change is going to affect all aspects of our local environment.  Plants are especially vulnerable to Climate Change because they cannot move.  They are going to be vulnerable to invasive species, droughts, foods, the lack of snow, and much more as accelerated Climate Change takes hold.


Plants and Soil Education Sites

  • Get the facts on our Plants and Wildlife: Learning how our plants and wildlife are managed, how climate change and other factors affect our environment, check out this document by the US Fish and Wildlife Service JOURNAL OF FISH AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT A Quarterly Open Access Publication Developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "Welcome to the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management ! On behalf of the editorial staff and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I am excited to welcome you to the inaugural issue of the new Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management! This new online journal focuses on the practical application and integration of science to the conservation and management of North American fish, wildlife, plants, and the ecosystems upon which they depend." Northeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County Our Mission is to provide research-based information and education programs to address local priority needs in the areas of 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture, Horticulture, and Nutrition, Food Safety & Health.
  • Gardening Resources, Cornell University Your portal to gardening information at Cornell.
  • Rochester Gardening Gardening in Upstate New York This web site is meant to encourage the transfer of information relating to the varied interests of gardeners living near Rochester NY. This is accomplished by presenting some material which is local in content, and links to resources found elsewhere on the Internet.
Winter Bud
  • GardenWeb - The Internet's Garden Community GardenWeb is an award winning site serving more than 3 million page impressions a month. GardenWeb hosts forums, garden exchanges, articles, contests, a plant database, the Web's largest garden-related glossary and online catalogs. We are also home to the Calendar of Garden Events, The Rosarian, Wild-Flowers and sister sites in Europe and Australia. It is our aim to provide the most comprehensive gardening site on the Web, combining the creative use of interactivity with imaginative content and a user-friendly interface.
  • Got Tar Spot Disease? In 2003 Tar Spot of Norway Maples is a Rochester regional issue and this year is the worst we have ever seen. Some trees are now showing some defoliation. Fortunately since they are losing their leaves in late summer (the end of the season) the trees will be okay. The problem we are seeing now is related to the wet spring weather. It is unlikely that the conditions will be as favorable for this disease again next year. Below we have reproduced the excellent fact sheet from Cornell Cooperative Extension.
  • Caring for your lawn organically: A healthy lawn will not need pesticides. If properly maintained, your lawn will be naturally resistant to weeds and harmful insects. Here are some basic tips for having the healthiest lawn possible.--from NYPRIG
  • Know your Soil: How healthy is our soil? Web Soil Survey Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. It is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and provides access to the largest natural resource information system in the world. NRCS has soil maps and data available online for more than 95 percent of the nation’s counties and anticipates having 100 percent in the near future. The site is updated and maintained online as the single authoritative source of soil survey information.
  • "The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative was launched in September 2011 and is open to all those interested in developing a coherent platform for promoting the translation of expert knowledge on soil biodiversity into environmental policy and sustainable land management for the protection and enhancement of ecosystem services. "
  • Within the City of Rochester, we have an old growth park: WASHINGTON GROVE PRESERVATION PROJECT Washington Grove is a city owned woodland area nestled on the eastern edge of Cobbs Hill Reservoir. In 2008, a coalition of park users and surrounding neighbors came together to develop a management plan for Washington Grove. The coalition produced a draft management plan which suggested some actions aimed at preserving and restoring the Grove. This was provided to the City for review. With some modifications the plan was adopted and became the basis for an annual City work plan designed to improve the conditions of Washington Grove and reinforce its commitment to preserving the beauty of and access to the area.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones. For the first time, the map is available as an interactive GIS-based map, for which a broadband Internet connection is recommended, and as static images for those with slower Internet access. Users may also simply type in a ZIP Code and find the hardiness zone for that area. United States Department of Agriculture USDA

Official Plants Resources

Check these sites first for urban forests, plants rules and regulations for our area.  If you have a question on this subject, these are the experts.

  • Rare Plant Information - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation "Conservation Guides - These comprehensive fact sheets about individual rare species and natural community types are designed to help land managers, decision-makers, planners, scientists, consultants, students, and the interested public better understand the biodiversity that characterizes New York. Conservation Guides include information on biology, identification, habitat, distribution, conservation, and management. Guides for many of New York's rare species and natural community types have been completed and are updated periodically, and more are continually being added to the Guides website " --from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Urban and Community Forestry - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation The New York State Urban and Community Forestry, U&CF, Program is a partnership between DEC forestry professionals, public and private individuals, and volunteer organizations who care about trees in urban settings. It supports and assists communities in comprehensive planning, management, and education to create healthy urban and community forests to enhance the quality of life for urban residents. Funding for this program is provided in part by the State of New York and the U.S. Forest Service.
  • USDA US Department of Agriculture : In 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln founded the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he called it the "people's Department." In Lincoln's day, 90 percent of the people were farmers who were in need of good seed and information to grow their crops. Today, USDA continues Lincoln's legacy by serving all Americans, the two percent who farm as well as everyone who eats, wears clothes, lives in a house, or visits a rural area or a national forest.
  • City of Rochester, NY Urban Forest Master Plan On Arbor Day, 2005, the City of Rochester released a forestry master plan entitled: "City in a Forest: An Urban Forest Master Plan for the City of Rochester." Since then, the Forestry staff in the Department of Environmental Services have worked to meet the goals outlined in the plan and develop new recommendations.  In 2012, the "Urban Forest Master Plan: City in a Forest, Third Edition" was released.  Download the full master plan document to read about Forestry's achievements, ongoing efforts and plans for the future. Staff members manage the care and maintenance of approximately 70,000 public trees located along City streets and in City parks and cemeteries. This includes tree pest management, pruning, planting, removal, inspection and responding to public requests. Visit the Forestry Services page to find out more.


"Forests across the United States are expected to undergo numerous changes in response to the changing climate. This second edition of the Forest Adaptation Resources provides a collection of resources designed to help forest managers incorporate climate change considerations into management and devise adaptation tactics. It was developed as part of the Climate Change Response Framework and reflects the expertise, creativity, and feedback of dozens of direct contributors and hundreds of users of the first edition over the last several years (see Six interrelated chapters include: (1) a description of the overarching Climate Change Response Framework, which generated these resources; (2) a brief guide to help forest managers judge or initiate vulnerability assessments; (3) a "menu" of adaptation strategies and approaches that are directly relevant to forests of the Northeast and upper Midwest; ..." (Year Published 2016 Publication Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-GTR-87-2. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 161 p. US Dept, of Agriculture, Forest Division)

Non-Official Plant Resources

  • Information all about urban trees, why they’re important for our health, managing storm water (which is increasing in our region), and cooling our cities (which are getting warmer because of the urban island effect. This is a great resource for a great natural resource: Funding Trees for Health Finance and Policy to Enable Tree Planting for Public Health (from the Nature Conservancy)
  • Trees - Arbor Day Foundation The Arbor Day Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation and education organization. A million members, donors, and partners support our programs to make our world greener and healthier.
    • Tree City USA—The Arbor Day Foundation The Tree City USA® program provides direction, assistance, attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities
  • TreeLink! This site was created to provide information, research, and networking for people working in urban and community forestry. For the researcher, the arborist, the community group leader, the volunteer-our purpose is to inform, educate, and inspire.
  • The Horticultural Society of New York The Horticultural Society of New York’s (HSNY) interconnected outreach programs and cultural resources continue to grow and impact expanding, diverse constituencies across New York City.
  • The Forest Stewardship Council The Forest Stewardship Council was created to change the dialogue about and the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide. This impressive goal has in many ways been achieved, yet there is more work to be done. FSC sets forth principles, criteria, and standards that span economic, social, and environmental concerns. The FSC standards represent the world’s strongest system for guiding forest management toward sustainable outcomes. Like the forestry profession itself, the FSC system includes stakeholders with a diverse array of perspectives on what represents a well-managed and sustainable forest. While the discussion continues, the FSC standards for forest management have now been applied in over 57 countries around the world.
  • The American Chestnut Foundation - Restoring the American chestnut tree The American Chestnut Foundation was founded in 1983 by a group of prominent plant scientists who recognized the severe impact the demise of the American chestnut tree imposed upon the local economy of rural communities, and upon the ecology of forests within the tree’s native range.
  • green guerillas Since 1973 greenguerillas™ has helped thousands of people realize their dreams of turning vacant rubble-strewn lots into vibrant community gardens. Each year we work with hundreds of grassroots groups throughout New York City to strengthen underserved neighborhoods through community gardening. With our help, people grow food, plant flowers, educate youth, paint colorful murals and preserve their gardens as vital community centers for future generations.
  • NOFA NOFA-NY is the oldest and largest organization in New York devoted to organic and sustainable farming and gardening. We are an organization of consumers, gardeners and farmers creating a sustainable regional food system which is ecologically sound and economically viable.
  • American Forests American Forests is a world leader in planting trees for environmental restoration, a pioneer in the science and practice of urban forestry, and a primary communicator of the benefits of trees and forests.
  • Wild Ones Niagara Falls and River Region Chapter Create in Niagara Falls (NY) and the Niagara River region a sense of place through grassroots partnerships, advocacy, and education about regional native plants and natural landscaping with a focus on the restoration, preservation and the protection of the botanically unique habitats of Niagara Falls and the Niagara gorge, their old growth forests and rare calcareous cliff botanicals.
  • Re-Tree Re-Tree WNY was established on November 3, 2006 by a group of about 40 Western New York residents who saw first-hand the devastation done to our beautiful Western New York living resource — our trees — and decided to take action to re-forest every public area that was destroyed by the freak October 12-13 snowstorm. Included on our committee is an eclectic group of professionals who have a passion for Greater Buffalo and a background for being “doers” in our committee. We have government leaders, media personalities, attorneys, park personnel, community activists, volunteer organizations, sales executives, promotional people, media people, retirees, and retail managers in our group. Our mission is the same as our name, Re-Tree WNY. We are working on this project as a five-year plan with a goal to replace the approximately 30,000 trees in Western New York that were damaged or destroyed. Our first planting was on Arbor Day, April 27, 2007 where we planted 2,000 trees to get the project a strong jump-start.
  • New York State Urban and Community Forestry Council "The New York State Urban and Community Forestry Council is a volunteer group, organized formally in 1999, to advise and assist the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC) in executing its Urban and Community Forestry policies. The Council's major funding, supplied through the USDA Forest Service, is supplemented by membership dues and independent contributions... "
  • New York Flora Atlas "The New York Flora Atlas is a source of information for the distribution of plants within the state, as well as information on plant habitats, associated ecological communities, and taxonomy. In addition, users can learn about the location of vouchered specimens and see images to get a better visual for each plant. The next step is to create a Manual to the New York State Flora. Early efforts are underway to move towards this goal. Learn more about the Flora Atlas » "
  • Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District "The MCSWCD is a municipal subdivision that partners with other agencies and organizations to educate and assist land stewards in planning and implementing comprehensive management practices that stabilize soil, improve water quality, manage stormwater, preserve open space and/or manage fish and wildlife habitat. The District promotes the preservation of: wetlands, woodlots, agricultural land, and low-impact development. We provide services to partners, landowners, developers, farmers, engineers, government and non-government agencies. All SWCD programs and services are offered on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, national origin, political beliefs, religion, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability. Should you need reasonable disability-related accommodations they may be requested by contacting the MCSWCD. "
  • Global Forest Watch "Global Forest Watch (GFW) is a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests. For the first time, Global Forest Watch unites satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to guarantee access to timely and reliable information about forests. GFW is free and follows an open data approach in putting decision-relevant information in the hands of governments, companies, NGOs, and the public. GFW is supported by a diverse partnership of organizations that contribute data, technical capabilities, funding, and expertise. The partnership is convened by the World Resources Institute. "
  • United Plant Savers "United Plant Savers' mission is to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come. These Are Exciting Times for Herbalists. We are witnessing the art of herbalism rapidly regaining its rightful place in the American tradition of health and healing. However, as herbalism flourishes and winds its way into the "main stream" of America, it is eliciting a unique set of problems and concerns. "