4 Park Pollinator Hotspots
Listen closely and throughout Prospect Park you'll hear the gentle hum of butterflies, bees and other pollinators loving the park’s flowers and doing the important work of enabling plant fertilization and the production of seeds. Ever wondered about these creatures and the plants they love? We talked to Prospect Park Alliance’s Horticultural and Natural Resources Crew staff to learn about four beautiful spots you won’t want to miss on your next park stroll.
Located atop Lookout Hill in the center of the park, Prospect Park Alliance has created a butterfly meadow, which lives up to its name. This relatively untamed field of native plants, including milkweed, attract a host of pollinators and is one of the park's best locations to spot a wide variety of birds.
In this location and throughout the park, Alliance gardeners, horticulturalists, and Natural Resources crew sustain the environment and advances the park by creating healthy native landscapes that encourage entire ecosystems to flourish.
Cup plants like the ones pictured here grow high in the air and attract honeybees and other pollinators. "If you plant it, they will come," says Prospect Park Alliance Horticultural Supervisor Ronen Gamil. "As a planting strategy, our safest bet is to plant truly local plants, and native insects will be attracted to the food source and habitat you've provided."
The Butterfly Meadow lives up to its name, with Eastern tiger swallowtails (pictured) and Monarch butterflies among the frequent summer visitors.
A Silver-spotted skipper butterfly enjoying Joe-pye weed in the Butterfly Meadow. "These are three-season plantings," says Howard Goldstein, Prospect Park Alliance Forest Ecologist. "When we plan these spaces, we try to make sure that there will be something for our native creatures to enjoy throughout the year."
The LeFrak Center at Lakeside
The LeFrak Center at Lakeside, located in the southeast corner of the park, is surrounded on all sides—including the roof overlooking the rinks (pictured)—by recently planted landscapes full of native species. The Alliance's team of Lakeside gardeners can be seen year round planting and maintaining this beautiful space.
It is estimated that there are 416 bee species in New York state. Swaths of short-toothed mountain mint, pictured, are a smorgasbord for many of these species who busily buzz from flower to flower, doing the important work of pollinating the plants.
A butterfly visits a wild bergamot flower in the park. "Insects are an essential link between plants and other members of these ecosystems, like birds," says Gamil. "Bird population sizes are related to insect populations, so by providing food for one, you provide for them all."
Lincoln Road Entrance
Just inside the Lincoln Road and Ocean Avenue entrance on the east side of Prospect Park, visitors can find plenty of flowers and "Newly Planted Landscape" signs. This area has been transformed in recent years by Alliance gardeners into a blooming landscape.
The purple coneflower is a frequently cultivated plant for its beauty. It is also a big draw for native pollinators, with bees and butterflies flocking to its large blossoms.
Butterfly milkweed is an important native plant in the park, found at the Lincoln Road entrance and in many other locations. Not only does it draw pollinators, but monarch caterpillars (the the one pictured) only eat milkweed. This plant is an essential food source for this threatened native species.
The Long Meadow Sugar Bowl
One of the most recently planted spaces in the park, the Sugar Bowl is a beloved spot for dogs and dog owners during off-leash hours, and now by plenty of pollinators, too! This area is found near the center of the Long Meadow, on the west side of the park close to the 9th Street entrance.
"Not all pollinators are butterflies and bees," says Goldstein. "Some flies, beetles and wasps are also important pollinators." This tiny wasp on native pokeweed is a pollinator. While wasps are carnivorous as larvae, many species adults are omnivores or nectivores, and regularly pollinate plants.
These black-eyed Susan flowers may look enticing for a bouquet, but don't pick them! "Let the park's native creatures eat," reminds Gamil. It is against the park's rules to pick plants or flowers because it disrupts these essential habitats in an otherwise concrete city.
Other flowers found in this location are Joe-pye weed and goldenrod, plants that attract a wide variety of pollinators during their long blooming season from mid-summer through late fall, so make sure to stop by in the next few months to see who is enjoying these landscapes!