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Native Plants at Town Parks

The Town strives to increase the use of native plants in its landscapes due to their benefits for wildlife and the environment. Native plants are those that have historically occurred in our geographic area and therefore are adapted to our climate, soils and wildlife with minimal inputs. This page provides information on where you can find native plantings in Town parks as well as photos and details about these beneficial plants so you can locate them when you visit each site.  Please keep in mind that native plants are not exclusive to these areas and they are found in a variety of locations around the Town, however these locations showcase larger scale plantings. This information can also be used for inspiration to plant natives in your own landscape!  Please check back as we add more native planting locations and photos!

Click on the links below or scroll down to learn about each garden:

Rock Garden at Gerry Park

Center Island at Gerry Park

Papermill Road Rock Memorial at Gerry Park

Pollinator Garden at Clark Botanic Garden

Rain Garden at Clark Botanic Garden

Lower Pond at Clark Botanic Garden

Ridder's Park

North Hempstead Beach Park

Manhasset Valley Park

Rock Garden at Gerry Park

This garden was planted as a pollinator garden, with plants added in 2018 and 2019.  It has over 1,400 plants that benefit bees, butterflies and other pollinators as well as birds. These include:

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa): This short species of milkweed has beautiful orange blooms and bright green foliage.  Milkweeds are vital to monarch butterflies, which are in decline, since their larvae only feed on these plants that have been decimated due to habitat loss, development and pesticide use. Blooms May through September.

False indigo (Baptisia australis): This member of the pea family is popular in gardens due to its attractive foliage and showy purple flowers.  It has a shrub like appearance.  It is primarily pollinated by queen bumblebees, which feed on its nectar.  It is also a larval host for butterflies and moths.  Blooms April through June.

Carolina rose (Rosa carolina): This small shrub has pink flowers with 5 petals and a pleasant fragrance.  It also has smooth, dark green foliage and thorny stems.  It provides food for birds, butterflies, native bees and other pollinating insects in the form of nectar, pollen and rose hips. Blooms April through June.

New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus): This low growing shrub has small clusters of white flowers. Its leaves were dried and used to make a type of tea in the American Revolution. Butterflies and bees utilize its flowers for nectar and pollen. Birds eat its seeds and it is also a larval host for many butterfly species. Blooms May through July.

Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium): This member of the aster family has green, fern-like leaves and showy white blooms.  Many insects feed on the nectar, pollen and foliage of this plant, including flies, native bees, butterflies and moths.  Blooms April through September.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum): This native warm season, clump forming grass has a stiff, columnar form.  Its green leaves turn yellow in the fall.  Its seeds provide a good food source for birds in winter.  It also provides cover and nesting material for birds and mammals.  It is a larval host for skipper butterfly species. 

Little bluestem (Andropogon scoparium): This bunchgrass is one of the dominant grasses of the tallgrass prairie that once made up a large portion of Long Island called the Hempstead Plains.  Little bluestem has skinny, flat, green leaves with a slight blue color at the base.  It features beautiful clusters of fluffy, silvery-white seed heads and bronze-orange foliage in the fall to winter.  Many insects feed on its foliage and these provide food to insectivorous birds.  Its fuzzy white seeds are a valuable food source to small birds and native bees use the stems for nesting.  It is also a larval host to many native butterflies.

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): Although this species is not native to Long Island, it has become naturalized and provides great resources for native wildlife, while also adding a beautiful aesthetic.  They are often a popular plant in landscaping and have purple blooms that occur atop a single stem.  It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds as well as native bee species.  Blooms April through October.

New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis): This tall, upright plant features clusters of small, deep purple, composite flowers and lance-shaped leaves.  Its nectar is used by butterflies and moths as well as native bees and birds eat its seeds.  Blooms August through September.

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis): Is a woodland wildflower with showy, drooping, bell-like flowers that are red and yellow.  It is used by hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and hawk moths for nectar and pollen.  Its seeds are consumed by finches and buntings.  Blooms April through July.

Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum):  Has showy, pink, five-petaled flowers that occur at the top of a leafy stem.  Its seeds are eaten by birds and chipmunks. Nectar and pollen attracts bumblebees, mason bees and other native bees as well as flower flies, butterflies and skippers.  Blooms April through May.

Foxglove Beardtongue ‘dark towers’ (Penstemon digitalis): This plant is not native to NY, but is naturalized, not-invasive and very beneficial to bees and hummingbirds. This cultivar has showy, light pink, tubular flowers that bloom early in the season.  Their leaves and stems have hairs and are a medium green color.  The tubular flowers attract long-tongued bees including honeybees and bumblebees, as well as mason bees and various other types.  Butterflies, moths and hummingbirds also drink its nectar.  Blooms April through July.

Rough goldenrod ‘fireworks’ (Solidago rugosa): This species has showy clusters of yellow flowers and rough, hairy stems.  All goldenrod species are an important source of nectar and pollen to bees, butterflies and other insects.  They are vital in the autumn as a late food source for migrating insects, especially butterflies like the monarch.  Some birds also eat their seeds.  Blooms September through October.


Smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve): This aster has beautiful flower heads, attractive foliage and erect stems that provide a color boost at the end of the growing season.  Nectar and pollen attract butterflies, moths and bees.  Like goldenrod species it is an important late season food source, especially to the migrating monarch butterfly.  Birds also eat their seeds.  It is also a larval host for the Pearl crescent butterfly.  Blooms August through October.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin): This shrub has small yellow flowers that bloom in the spring, which is helpful for early pollinators. It can grow to be 6 to 12 feet tall and its attractive dark green foliage provides cover and habitat for wildlife. It is also the larval host plant for the spicebush swallowtail butterfly (see picture below of an early instar caterpillar at Gerry Park!). Blooms in March.

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Center Island at Gerry Park

This garden, in view of Roslyn Road, was cleared of weeds and invasive species in fall 2019 and then successively planted as a pollinator garden.  Plants include:

Butterfly weed (Aclepias tuberosa)

Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa): This goldenrod species features bright yellow flower clusters in a compact, erect, pyramidal column.  It also has reddish stems and is one of the showiest species of goldenrod that occurs in the United States.  People often mistake goldenrod for causing hay fever which is really caused by windblown pollen of other plants like ragweed.  Blooms August through October.

Wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria): This plant has the same appearance as false indigo except with yellow flowers.  It is of special value to native bumble bees, which feed on its nectar.  It is also a larval host for butterflies and moths.  Blooms April through June.

Sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina): This small shrub has long, narrow, olive-green leaves that resemble a fern, hence its name. It produces a small nut.  The shrub is a member of the bayberry family and the leaves are very aromatic.  It attracts birds and butterflies and is a larval host to the Grey Hairstreak Butterfly.  Blooms April to May.

Little bluestem (Andropohon gerardii)

New England aster (Aster novi-angliae): This aster lives in prairies and meadows and has beautiful daisy-like purple rays with yellow centers.  Like the smooth blue aster it is an important late season food source for bees and butterflies, especially for migrating monarchs.  It is also a larval host for the pearl crescent and checkerspot butterflies.  Blooms August through October.

Threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata zagreb): This plant has yellow, daisy-like flowers and typically grows in dense, bushy clumps.  It provides nectar and pollen for butterflies and other pollinators and its seeds are eaten by songbirds.  Blooms June through September.

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Papermill Road Rock Memorial at Gerry Park

This memorial lists important historical events that happened in Roslyn.  It is now surrounded by native ornamental grasses to provide beauty, prevent soil erosion and benefit wildlife.  Plants include:

Big blue stem (Andropogon gerardii): This warm season, bunch grass has blue-green stems that are erect and branched.  In the fall the color turns to an attractive reddish-tan.  It is an important tall grass prairie species.  It provides cover, nesting sites and seeds for many species of birds and is a larval host for skipper butterfly species.  It also provides nesting for native bees.

Purple love grass (Eragrostis spectabilis): This warm season, bunchgrass is small in stature, but has brilliant reddish-purple flowers.  Its foliage provides food for insects.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

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Pollinator Garden at Clark Botanic Garden

This garden was revamped as a pollinator garden in 2015 with the clearing out of invasive vegetation and planting of various annual and perennial plants that provide nectar for pollinators.  In 2018, as part of the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, this garden was certified as a Monarch Waystation, which means it has the essential resources needed for monarch butterflies like host plants, nectar sources, water and a place to rest.

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

False indigo (Baptisia australis)

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia fulgida): This species is not native to Long Island, but it has become naturalized and it is a popular plant used in landscaping.  It has a coneflower with yellow blooms and brownish-black centers.  It attracts birds and butterflies and is of special value to native bees.  It is also a larval host to the silvery checkerspot butterfly.  Blooms May through October.

Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium sp.): This tall plant has serrated, lance shaped, dark green leaves and vanilla scented, mauve colored clusters of flowers.  The flowers are very attractive, especially to butterflies.  Its nectar and pollen also attract native bees, flies, and moths.  It is also a larval host for many moth species.  Blooms July through September.

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca): This species of milkweed has beautiful mauve blooms and bright green broad, oval shaped leaves.  As a species of milkweed, it is a host plant for the monarch butterfly as well as the milkweed tussock moth. Blooms June through August.


Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): This species of milkweed has beautiful purple/pink flowers and grows in clumps. It is also a host species for monarchs. Blooms June through August.

Ironweed (Vernonia sp.)

Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata): This upright perennial grows in clumps with pink-purple florets.  Provides nectar and pollen to bees, butterflies as well as hummingbirds.  It is a great butterfly attractant.  Blooms July through September.

Blazingstar (Liatris spicata): This plant in the aster family is upright, clump forming and has fluffy, thistle-like, purple flowers.  Its flowers provide food for bees and butterflies.  Blooms July through August.

Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginianum): Large, erect plant with lance-shaped leaves and a triangular shaped cluster of tube like white flowers.  Bees (sweat bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees) and butterflies utilize nectar and pollen.  Blooms June through August.

Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa): This popular herb in the mint family has clusters of showy lavender or pink tubular flowers that look like ragged pompoms. It is visited by many types of pollinators like bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds. Blooms June through September.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

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Rain Garden at Clark Botanic Garden

This garden was planted in 2016 to alleviate flooding from the walkway as well as accept and filter stormwater from the Clark House rooftop.  Native plants have long, extensive root systems which allow water to infiltrate in the ground better than lawn grass.  Besides its benefit of reducing stormwater pollution it also provides many resources for wildlife with native plants including:

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

False indigo (Baptisia australis)

Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Wild blue lupine (Lupinus perennis): This legume, has blue/purple pea-like, upright, elongated flower clusters.  Since it is a legume it enhances soil by fixing nitrogen.  Its flowers are cross-pollinated by honeybees, bumblebees, digger bees, mason bees and other long-tongued bees.  Its flowers do not contain nectar. The Karner Blue butterfly's (endangered in NY) larvae feed solely on this plant as well as the frosted elfin butterfly, which is a rare species and in decline.  Blooms April through July.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Threadleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata zagreb)

Scarlet bee balm (Monarda didyma): This popular herb in the mint family has clusters of showy red tubular flowers that look like ragged pompoms.  Its nectar and pollen attract many native bees, butterflies and moths.  The ruby throated hummingbird also feeds on its nectar.  Blooms May through September.

Anise hyssop (Agastache 'blue fortune'): This upright, clump forming plant is in the mint family.  Its foliage is anise scented and it has lavender clusters of flowers in a vertical column.  It is a good nectar plant and will be utilized by bees, hummingbirds and many butterfly species.  Its pollen is also used by many types of bees.  Blooms June through September.

Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis): This tree is multi-trunked with white flowers that give way to summer berries that are edible for humans and wildlife.  Green summer leaves turn orange or red in the fall.  The fruit is popular with birds and mammals and the flowers also provide nectar and pollen for pollinators.  It is of special value to native bees.  Blooms in April.

Little bluestem (Andropogon scoparium)

Smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve)

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa): This deciduous shrub offers four season interest with its spring/summer white flowers, purple/black berries in fall, brilliant red leaves in late autumn and red bark in winter. Its berries provide food for birds and foliage provides cover for birds and other wildlife.  Blooms in May.

Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis): Is a clump-forming, warm season, grass that naturally occurs in prairies.  It has fine-textured, hair-like, medium green leaves that turn golden with orange hues in fall and light bronze in winter.  Their name comes from the tiny, rounded seeds that drop to the ground in the fall.  Many types of birds eat its seeds and its foliage provides cover for wildlife.

Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia): This multi-stemmed shrub is evergreen, with dark green foliage all year round and showy pink flowers. It provides winter cover for wildlife and nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies as well as pollen for bees. It blooms in May through July.

Turtle head (Chelone glabra): This erect, clump-forming perennial has flowers that resemble turtle heads.  Bumblebees use it for pollen and nectar and it sometimes attracts ruby throated hummingbirds. It is also a larval host for the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly. Blooms August to October.

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Lower Pond at Clark Botanic Garden

In 2019 the Town received funding from the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District to construct a berm and plant native plants that would help prevent flooding and erosion in the area.  The Town used plants that can tolerate wet conditions and keep the soil in place, while also providing food and habitat for wildlife.  These plants include:

River birch (Betula nigra): This deciduous tree has catkins that provide seeds to a wide range of songbirds and it is a larval host for mourning cloak and tiger swallowtail butterflies.  Blooms April through May.

Button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis): This deciduous shrub is erosion tolerant and grows well in wet soils including standing water.  Its white clusters of flowers are very attractive to bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and moths and many species of birds consume its seeds.  Blooms June through August.

Silky dogwood (Cornus amomum): This medium-sized shrub is found in wetlands, streams and moist areas.  Its twigs and leaf undersides have silky hairs.  Butterflies use its flowers for nectar and it is an important food source for mining bee species.  Its fruits are eaten by songbirds and mammals and it is a larval host to spring and summer azure butterflies.  Blooms May through June.

Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia): This deciduous shrub has many of the same features as black chokeberry, but with red berries.

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) 

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia): This deciduous shrub is also called coastal sweet-pepper.  It is branched and leafy with multiple stems and green leaves, which turn dull yellow to orange in the fall.  Its fragrant flowers are white and yield brown fruiting capsules that persist through winter.  Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds use its flowers for pollen and nectar and many birds and mammals eat its fruit.  Blooms July through August.

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis): This clump-forming perennial features erect, terminal spikes of large, cardinal red tubular flowers.  It grows in moist locations along streams, swamps and wooded areas.  Butterflies and hummingbirds use it as a nectar source.  Blooms July through September.


Royal fern (Osmunda regalis): This fern has attractive foliage and fiddleheads and thrives in moist soils.  It provides shelter for toads and other wildlife.

Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum): Has delicate fronds with dark shiny stems.  Burgundy red fiddleheads appear in early spring.

Cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum): Has loose rosette of leaves that ascend to be nearly erect. Fertile fronds are produced during the spring and summer and fiddleheads emerge at the base of the plant.  Cinnamon colored fibers are found near the frond bases.  Foliage provides food to moth larvae.

Turtle head (Chelone glabra) 'Hot lips': This variety is similar to the original plant, but with a richer pink color of the blooms.

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Ridder’s Park

In 2020, Town staff planted two pollinator gardens with funding provided by the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District. These gardens contain a variety of plants that provide nectar and pollen to bees, butterflies and various other pollinators, as well as seeds and berries for birds. In addition to these gardens, multiple native trees were planted around the pond that will also benefit wildlife. Plants included are:

Common bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi): This winter hardy, creeping, slow-growing woody shrub is low growing and widely spreading which makes it a suitable groundcover. It has dark evergreen leaves that are leathery and oval shaped, but which turn bronze in the winter. Its drooping flower clusters give rise to berry-like fruits that ripen in autumn. It provides early food for bees with its spring blooms and berries are eaten by birds and other animals. Blooms March to June.

Leadplant (Amorpha canescens): This small deciduous shrub in the pea/bean family has dense spike-like clusters of purple flowers. It has interesting foliage with leaves and branches that have white/gray hairs. Its blooms are very attractive to pollinators, especially bees. Blooms July to September.

Garden phlox ‘Franz Shubert’ (Phlox paniculata): This variety of phlox has the same characteristics as the wild type plant, but it has lilac colored flowers.

Purple coneflower ‘Starlight’ (Echinacea purpurea): This variety of purple coneflower has bright purple blooms. Its characteristics are similar to the wild purple coneflower described previously.

Rough goldenrod ‘fireworks’ (Solidago rugosa)

Little bluestem (Schizachyium scoparium)

Threadleaf Coreopsis ‘zagreb’ (Coreopsis verticillata)

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Anise hyssop (Agastache 'blue fortune')

Serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis): This understory tree has very similar characteristics to Amelanchier canadensis which was described above.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida): This small tree is considered to be one of the most beautiful eastern North American trees. It has showy blooms, red fruit and red foliage in the fall. It provides fruit for birds and its flowers attract butterflies and native bees. It is also a larval host to the spring azure butterfly. Blooms April to May.

Common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana): This small tree or tall shrub usually grows to 10 to 15 feet, but can reach 35 ft. It has large, crooked spreading branches and vibrant, fragrant yellow flowers in the fall.  Green leaves turn a brilliant gold color in autumn. The extract of leaves, twigs and bark is often used in medicines, lotions and other personal care products. Blooms October to December.

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North Hempstead Beach Park

This park’s promenade along the waterfront boasts raised planting beds with a variety of native plants including the following:

Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata): This low growing perennial plant spreads quickly and is a good groundcover. It has fragrant flowers with varieties that can be pink, purple or white. It stays semi-evergreen in the winter. Its early blooms are helpful to pollinators emerging in the spring. Blooms March to May.

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.)

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Blazingstar (Liatris spicata)

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Threadleaf Coreopsis ‘zagreb’ and ‘moonbeam(Coreopsis verticillata): The moonbeam variety  (pictured below) is similar to zagreb except its flowers are a paler yellow and the plant grows slightly smaller in height.

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)

River birch (Betula nigra)

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Manhasset Valley Park

The edge of Whitney Creek was planted with many native perennials that help pollinators by the Port Washington Monarch Alliance. It also has many types of native trees and shrubs. Plants include:

False sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides): This plant has beautiful yellow daisy-like flowers that looks like sunflowers, but they are not in the same genus as sunflowers (Helianthus). This is why they are called ‘false’ sunflower. Flower have nectar and pollen that attract many species of bees, butterflies and other insects.  It is also a larval host for many species of butterflies and moths. The seeds are a food source for a variety of birds and small mammals. The foliage of these plants provide good cover for many forms of wildlife. Blooms June to August.

NY ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)

Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp.)

Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa)

Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.)

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For more information visit:

Mayors' Monarch Pledge Page

Protecting Pollinators Page

Native Plants for LI Landscapes