Native Plant Reserve
River Road opposite Harrison Avenue, Highland Park, Middlesex County, New Jersey

The reserve occupies one large section of the undeveloped riverside strip along River Road north of the Route 27 bridge. At the reserve’s north edge, Johnson Park begins, with a small stream and bikeway entrance a few yards north, and a marshy pond a little farther.


River Road, Highland Park (enter at the gravel parking area across from the foot of Harrison Avenue). You’ll see the plantings set well back from the road behind the parking.


The  Reserve is owned by the Borough of Highland Park and managed by volunteers from the Highland Park Shade Tree Advisory Committee.

The effort restores a bit of the site’s wetland soil that had become covered by gravelly fill.

Funding came from matching grants from the Middlesex County Urban Forestry Advisory Committee (1994) and later the Green Communities grant of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry (1997– 8). There was also cooperation from the municipality and utility agencies (owners of underground pipelines).


eastern box turtle;  herons, egrets, geese, sora rail; frogs; muskrats.  There is a stream at the western boundary of the Native Plant Reserve.


Take a stroll among restored native trees, shrubs, and flowers along the Raritan River.

03/30/2005.  Ceferino Santana, dog Sonar and I made a tour of the area.  They have really planted quite a few specimens in a small area along the northern bank of the Raritan River. 


Collection of native flowers, shrubs, vines, and trees with signs telling the story of each. It won a 2000 Environmental Quality Award from US EPA (Region II).

staghorn sumac


Highland Park, New Jersey Environmental Commission;

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney
* = plant blooming on date of field trip, March 30, 2005

Acer negundo (box elder maple)
Acer rubrum (red maple) *
Amelanchier canadensis (shadbush)
Betula nigra (river birch)
Cercis canadensis (red bud)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Ilex opaca (American holly)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay magnolia)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Picea glauca (white spruce)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Salix nigra (black willow)
Ulmus sp. (elm)

Amorpha fruticosa (false indigo bush)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepper bush)
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex glabra (inkberry)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Itea virginica (sweetspire)
Lonicera sp. (honeysuckle)
Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)
Rosa carolina (Carolina rose)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (black berry)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Spiraea latifolia (broadleaf spiraea)
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (sweetmeadow)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium macrocarpon (large cranberry)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper)
Clematis virginiana (virgin's bower)
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vitis sp. (grape)

Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Amsonia hubrechtii (starflower)
Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the pulpit)
Amaranthus sp.? (amaranthus?)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asclepias tuberosa (butterflyweed)
Aster novae-angliae (New England aster)
Aster sp. (aster)
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress)
Baptisia leucantha (white baptisia)
Cardamine parviflora (few flowered bittercress) *
Coreopsis auriculata (coreopsis)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Echinacea sp. (purple coneflower)
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
Eupatorium purpureum (sweet-scented Joe-Pye-weed)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Iris versicolor (blue flag)
Narcissus sp. (daffodil)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)
Penstemon ovatus (beardtongue)
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Ranunculus ficaria (lesser celandine)
Solidago sp. (goldenrod)
Tradescantia sp. (spiderwort)
Veronicastrum virginicum (culver’s root)
Zizia aurea (golden alexander)
(glory of the snow) *

Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)

Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern)