Serpentine Commons

Stapleton, Staten Island, NY


Directions:

The entrance is on Van Duzer Street between Broad Street and the intersection of  St. Paul's Ave. and Van Duzer Street. There is no admission fee, plenty of street parking and in close proximity to public transportation.


History (http://www.preserve.org/serpentine/serpentine.htm):

Stapleton is full of many 19th century Victorian homes and early village homes. There are many rock walls retaining the soil of  the hilly homesites.

Many of these homes were built by German beer brewers and other businessmen in the area at that time.

The Serpentine Art and Nature Commons is a not-for-profit community based organization devoted to the preservation of the 35 acres of wooded hillside on Grymes Hill, Staten Island, New York.

The Serpentine Art and Nature Commons is a not-for-profit community based organization devoted to the preservation of the 35 acres of wooded hillside on Grymes Hill, Staten Island, New York. Our prime objective is to maintain the area as an open space, prevent irresponsible land development, rescue land that is eroding, and restore some of the original trees, shrubs and wildlife to the area. This open space is available for free public use. The hillside offers hiking trails in a natural setting with a scenic view of the N.Y.C. Harbor.

Trouble began for this hillside back in October of 1970 when bulldozers began tearing away at its surface, removing tons of native topsoil, as a part of a plan by a developer to re-grade the steep slope to make it more suitable for residential dwellings. A group of concerned neighbors challenged the developer in court and by December succeeded in having the work permit revoked and operations brought to a halt. Unfortunately much damage had been done to the hillside leaving most of it looking very much like an abandoned strip mine. But the removal of soil was not complete and there were some areas that did not succumb to the bulldozer's shovel. As a result, a rare and unique plant environment known as a serpentine barrens still has a foothold here. Some of the plants included in this environment are the green milkweed and slender knotweed.


May 26, 1990/leader: Dick Buegler


Serpentine Commons near Van Duzen Street in Stapleton:

ovate-leaved violet V. fimbriatula

Patience Dock Rumex patientia

Little Bluestem Andropogon scoparius

grass Panicum oligosanthes

Autumn Clematis (Clematis dioscoreifolia) escape

Plants found at the Serpentine Art and Nature Commons included:

Green Milkweed (Asclepias viride) (though not yet in bloom)

Smooth Aster (Aster laevis)

Slender Knotweed (Polygonum tenue)

Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)

abundant Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

garden escapes:

Yam-leaved Clematis (Clematis dioscoreifolia)

Princess Tree (Paulownia tomentosa)

Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera)

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

The dominant tree here was Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

scattered saplings of Black Cherry (Prunus serotina).

Bloodroot Valley, off Mason Road, produced

hundreds of plants of Whorled Pogonia (Isotria verticillata) just past flowering, as well as:

Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)

Hairy Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum pubescens)

Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii)

Black Snakeroot (Sanicula marilandica)

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens)

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

growing in a woodland dominated by

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) and

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Ferns:

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Fragile Fern (Cystopteris fragilis)

Silvery Glade Fern (Deparia acrostichoides)

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrosti?)

The day ended with a visit to the Native Plant Propagation Center; p33 tour by Richard Lynch.

A brief visit to the Richmond County Golf Course revealed that Birdfoot Violet (V. pedata) still thrives there.


PLANT LIST:

Dick Buegler


Bromus sp. (brome grass)
Cakile edentula (sea rocket)
Cycloloma atriplicifolium (winged pigweed)
Hieracium sp. (hawkweed)
Hudsonia tomentosa (beach heather)
Krigia biflora (two-flowered Cynthia)
Lechea sp. (pinweed)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Prunus maritima (beach plum)
Salsola kali (saltwort)