Citizen Science: Botany at Central Park with Daniel Atha & Regina Alvarez

The last couple of weeks we joined Regina Alvarez from Central Park Conservatory and Daniel Athas from New York Botanic Garden to observe and document plants have started growing in Central Park that were not originally planted. This documentation process is generally done every 10 years. It's a good way to keep track of the ecology of the park - and certainly not a bad way to spend the day. 

Regina and Daniel worked as a great time. Regina worked at Central Park Conservancy, so she knew the lay of the land in what was originally planted in the park. Daniel is a botanist with over 20 years experience with identifying and collecting plants. 

Daniel uses his plant press to collect plant species. He uses acid free newspaper to help plant preservation and it is bound by two pieces of hard cardboard with two straps on the ends to tighten. 

The pictures above show Daniel pressing a "corn" plant which was not originally planted in Central Park.

After cutting the plant out along with the roots, Daniel unfastens the plant press, places the plant carefully with the roots as well in the newspaper making sure the plant is shown with the "front" and the "back" of the plant. He keeps the plant within the borders of the newspaper. After arranging the plant carefully, he covers the plant up and then places that piece in the back of the plant press under the stack of newspapers so it can be 'pressed' and held it in place. 

Documenting the plant takes very careful procedures. Very specific information goes into Daniel's notebook which includes the location of plant, longitude and latitude coordinates, description of the location, season, and Daniel's sequential code number that is unique to only him. 

Regina took a trip to the herbarium in New York Botanical Garden. She documented the process of plant collecting in detail here.