MONTAUK STATE PARK

Suffolk County, NY


Geology:

Montauk Point is one of the windiest places on the Atlantic coast.  It is the easternmost tip of New York State.  

The Ronkonkoma moraine extends right to the point and presents a bold promontory of glacial till.  The Montauk till is grossly different from the sediment of the Harbor Hill moraine along the north shore.  This is a true "boulder clay," a conglomeration of materials of all sizes indiscriminately ferried from the north by the glacier, and then melted out and dumped.  An excess of clay binds the whole mass together.    Erosion sorts these materials out, carries the fine particles away, and leaves the beach littered with glacial erratic boulders and gravel.  Reworked over and over by the waves, the coarse fraction is gradually worn down to sand that drifts westward to supply the beaches all the way to Jones Beach, nearly 100 miles away.  


History:

When the original lighthouse was built on the the spot in 1795-1797, it was about 300 feet from the edge.  The point loses about 10 feet each year.  The lighthouse was the first lighthouse to be federally financed by the newly-formed United States of America.  

Perhaps the most famous landmark on Long Island is Montauk Point, a magnificent beach of high bluffs and awe-inspiring views. At the very tip of the South Fork, 132 miles east of Manhattan, the park provides excellent tidepooling spots.  (Van Diver 1985:73-74)


PLANT LIST:
Judith Fitzgerald and Dr. Patrick L. Cooney, 4/26/02


Trees:
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)

Shrubs:
Amelanchier canadensis (coastal shadbush)
Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive) *
Forsythia sp. (golden bells) *
Gaultheria procumbens (winterberry)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Prunus maritima (beach plum) *
Prunus sp. (cherry) *
Rhus sp. (sumac)
Rosa rugosa (wrinkled rose)
Rosa sp. (rose)
Vaccinium sp. (blueberry)

Vines:
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Cuscuta sp. (dodder)
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)

Herbs:
Achillea millefolium (yarrow)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) *
Artemisia vulgare (common mugwort)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain)
Solidago sempervirens (seaside goldenrod)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) *
Trifolium pratense (red clover)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)

Grasses:
Ammophila breviligulata (American beach grass)
Anthoxanthum odoratum (sweet vernal grass) *


Steve Young found that the Liatris borealis colony at Montauk had been decapitated for its seed by some unknown party.   (LIBS Newsletter, Winter 2004, Vol. 14, No. 1. )

Sandplain Gerardia (Agalinus acuta) known from a few sites near Montauk.  

Creamy Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes ochroleuca) grows along the south bank, Route 27 west of Montauk Point (when not mowed).

Source:  Guy Tudor.  Now You See It, Now You Don't: A selected list of New York and New Jersey wildflowers and flowerings shrubs not covered in the standard regional guides. The Linnaean News Letter. Volume 59, Number 3, May 2005.