Lord Stirling Road, Basking Ridge, Bernards Township, Somerset County, NJ
897 acres (the second largest public facility in the county park system)


The easiest approach is via US 80 west, Interstate US 287 south for about 12 miles to exit 30A the North Maple Avenue-Basking Ridge exit. After exiting, proceed straight for about 2.6 miles and make a left turn onto Lord Stirling Road. (Note to keep going straight even through Basking Ridge where at the traffic islands North Maple Avenue becomes South Maple Avenue.) Proceed on Lord Stirling Road for one mile. Center entrance is on the left.


The park occupies the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin.

There are five major plant communities.

1) Circumscribing the property in a clockwise directions, beginning with the northernmost reaches is a freshwater marsh named "La Plus Grande" Button bush, swamp rose, cattails, rushes and sedges dominate.

2) Moving to the northeastern border along the Passaic River there is a seasonally inundated floodplain characterized by pin oak, red maple, and ash.

3) The entire southern perimeter is comprised of abandoned farm fields in various stages of transition to woodland.

4) The extensive wooded central region is mainly swamp dominated by pin oak, blueberry, and hummocks of sedge.

5) Pockets of drier woods contain white oak, beech, black birch, and shagbark hickory.

The Environmental Education Center:  The 18,000 square foot building (the first solar-powered public building in the country and opened in 1977) includes classrooms, an auditorium, a nature art gallery with temporary exhibits, an environmental book and gift shop, a library with natural history and environmental materials, and an orientation exhibition entitled Secrets of the Great Swamp that condenses 200 million years of local history into a series of 15 displays. An extensive range of programs is conducted focusing on local environmental issues, natural history, archeology, and outdoor recreation. Environmental and science/technology camps and classes are held during the summer and vacation breaks. Trails are open every day of the year from dawn to dusk. Several special events are conducted throughout the year.


This area used to be part of the estate of William Alexander, the Lord of Stirling, who served as a major general in the Continental Army. The site of his elegant Georgian Manor is located in a nonpublic area of the park.

William Alexander, being considered by many rightfully entitled to an earldom in Scotland, which he vainly endeavored to obtain, he was by courtesy called Lord Stirling. Born in New York in 1726, he received an excellent mathematical education, and was distinguished as a man of science. In the French and Indian war, he acted as commissary, aide-de-camp, and finally secretary to General Shirly. At its close he accompanied the later to England, to prosecute his Scotch claims, and in this fruitless effort expended a great deal of money, which impaired his fortune. Alexander lost his battle to claim the Earldom in the British courts.
During the Revolutionary War, Alexander started in New York where he was promoted to Brigadier. He commanded a brigade in the opening of the battle of Long Island. Alexander was captured at the battle and was eventually exchanged for the Governor of Florida in a prisoner exchange.

In 1777 he was with George Washington at Brandywine, and fought with Sullivan and Lafayette in that battle. He commanded a reserve unit at Germantown, then led one of Washington's divisions at the Battle of Monmouth.

In 1780 he made an attack on Staten Island with a force of 2,500 men. The British were aware of his plans, so he didn't accomplish much before having to withdraw. In 1781 he went to Albany to command the Northern Army.

He uncovered the Conway Cabal, a plot to make George Washington emperor.

He died in 1783, age fifty-seven after suffering quite some time from gout.

Much later much of the land became part of the J. Jacob Astor estate.

Here there were farms and logging.

Environmental education programs have been ongoing since 1971.


There is an 8.5 mile trail system, including 2.5 miles of boardwalk that allow easy access to wetter portions of the park.

Park Staff (some additions by Dr. Patrick L. Cooney)

Acer rubrum (red maple)
Amelanchier arborea. (shadbush) 4/20/00
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula nigra (river birch)
Betula papyrifera (white birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carya ovata (shagbark hickory)
Carya tomentosa (mockernut hickory)
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Crataegus sp. (hawthorn)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Fraxinus nigra (black ash)
Fraxinus americana (white ash)
Gleditsia triacanthos (honey locust)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Morus alba (white mulberry)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus grandidentata (big tooth aspen)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Pyrus sp. (crab apple) 4/20/00
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Rhus copallina (winged sumac) 8/14/95
Salix nigra (black willow)
Salix sp. (willow)
Taxodium distichum (bald cypress)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Alnus sp. (alder)
Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) 4/20/00
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Cephalanthus occidentalis (buttonbush) 8/14/95
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush) 8/14/95
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Cornus racemosa (gray-stemmed dogwood)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Epigaea repens (trailing arbutus)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells) 4/20/00
Ilex verticillata (winterberry)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Lyonia ligustrina (maleberry) lots
Myrica pensylvanica (bayberry)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea)
Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)
Rosa palustris (swamp rose) 8/14/95
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus alleghaniensis (common blackberry)
Sambucus canadensis (elderberry)
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (meadowsweet)
Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush) 8/14/95
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) 4/20/00
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum lentago (nannyberry viburnum)
Viburnum opulus? (cranberry viburnum)?
Viburnum prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum)

Apios americana (groundnut) 8/14/95
Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)
Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper)
Cuscuta sp. (dodder)
Lonicera japonica (Japanese honeysuckle) 8/14/95
Mikania scandens (climbing boneset) 8/14/95
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Smilax sp. (greenbrier)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vicia cracca (cow vetch)
Vitis sp. (summer or fox grape)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria)

Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 8/14/95
Acorus calamus (sweet flag)
Agalinis purpurea (purple gerardia) 8/14/95
Agrimonia gryposepala ? (agrimony)
Agrimonia parviflora (agrimony) 8/14/95
Alisma subcordatum (small water plantain)
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) 4/20/00
Allium vineale (field garlic)
Althea officinalis (marsh mallow)
Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed) 8/14/95
Anemone quinquefolia (wood anemone) 4/22/00
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp) 8/14/95
Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine)
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arctium minus (lesser burdock)
Arisaema triphyllum (jack in pulpit)
Artemisia vulgaris (common mugwort)
Asarum canadense (wild ginger)
Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) 8/14/95
Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)
Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)
Aster laevis (smooth aster)
Aster novae-angliae (New England aster)
Aster puniceus (purple-stemmed aster)
Aster simplex (panicled aster)
Aster vimineum (small white aster)
Aureolaria flava (smooth false foxglove)
Barbarea vulgaris (common winter cress) 4/20/00
Bartonia virginica (yellow screwstem)
Bidens connata (swamp beggar ticks)
Bidens coronata (tickseed sunflower)
Bidens sp. (beggar ticks)
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle) 8/14/95
Brassica nigra (black mustard)
Calla palustris (water arum)
Caltha palustris (marsh marigold)
Cardamine pratensis (cuckoo flower)
Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed)
Cerastium arvense (field chickweed) 4/20/00
Chelone glabra (white turtlehead)
Chelone obliqua (red turtlehead)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 8/14/95
Cichorium intybus (chicory) 8/14/95
Cicuta maculata (water hemlock)
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade)
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)
Cirsium discolor (field thistle) 8/14/95
Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle) 8/14/95
Cladium sp.
Claytonia virginica (spring beauty) 4/20/00
Conyza canadensis (horseweed) 8/14/95
Coreopsis major (greater coreopsis)
Cypripedium acaule (pink lady's slipper)
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 8/14/95
Desmodium canadense (showy tick trefoil)
Desmodium paniculatum (panicled tick trefoil)
Desmodium sp. (beggar tick) 8/14/95
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink)
Epifagus virginiana (beechdrops)
Erechtites hieraciifolia (pilewort) 8/14/95
Erigeron annuus (daisy fleabane) 8/14/95
Erigeron philadelphicus (common fleabane)
Erythronium americanum (trout lily)
Eupatorium dubium (eastern Joe-Pye-weed) 8/14/95
Eupatorium maculatum (spotted Joe-Pye-weed)
Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset)
Eupatorium rotundifolium (round-leaved thoroughwort)
Eupatorium rugosum (white snakeroot) 8/14/95
Euphorbia esula (leafy spurge) 4/20/00 soon
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 8/14/95
Fragaria virginiana (wild strawberry)
Galium palustre (marsh bedstraw) 8/14/95
Gentiana clausa (closed gentian)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Geum sp. (avens)
Glechoma hederacea (gill-over-the-ground) 4/20/00
Goodyera pubescens (downy rattlesnake plantain)
Habenaria lacera (ragged fringed orchis)
Helenium autumnale (sneezeweed) 8/14/95
Helenium flexuosum (purple-headed sneezeweed) 8/14/95
Helenium nudiflorum (sneezeweed)
Helianthemum canadense? (frostweed?) 8/14/95
Helianthus giganteus (tall sunflower)
Helianthus tuberosa (Jerusalem artichoke)
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily)
Hepatica americana (round-lobed hepatica)
Hibiscus palustris (swamp rose mallow) 8/14/95
Hieracium aurantiacum (orange hawkweed)
Hieracium pratense (field hawkweed)
Hypericum mutilum (dwarf St. Johnswort) 8/14/95
Hypericum perforatum (common St. Johnswort) 8/14/95
Hypericum punctatum (spotted St. Johnswort)
Hypoxis hirsuta (yellow stargrass)
Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) 8/14/95
Impatiens pallida (pale jewelweed)
Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag)
Iris versicolor (blue flag)
Krigia biflora (two-flowered Cynthia)
Lactuca canadensis (wild lettuce)
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Lepidium virginicum (wild peppergrass)
Liatris spicata (spiked blazing star)
Lilium canadense (Canada lily)
Linaria vulgaris (butter and eggs) 8/14/95
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) 8/14/95
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) 8/14/95
Lobelia spicata (spiked lobelia)
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 8/14/95
Ludwigia alternifolia (seedbox)
Ludwigia nummularia (moneywort)
Ludwigia palustris (marsh purslane)
Lycopus americanus (water horehound) 8/14/95
Lysimachia ciliata (fringed loosestrife) 8/14/95
Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort loosestrife)
Lysimachia quadrifolia (whorled loosestrife)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) 8/14/95
Maianthemum canadensis (Canada mayflower)
Matricaria matricarioides (pineapple weed)
Melilotus alba (white sweet clover)
Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover) 8/14/95
Mentha arvensis (wild mint) 8/14/95
Mentha piperita (peppermint) 8/14/95
Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells)
Mimulus ringens (monkey flower) 8/14/95
Mitchella repens (partridgeberry)
Monarda didyma (Oswego tea)
Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot) 8/14/95
Monarda media (purple bergamot)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe) remnants
Myosotis scorpioides (forget me not) 8/14/95
Narcissus spp. (daffodils) 4/20/00
Nuphar variegata (spatterdock)
Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose) 8/14/95
Oenothera fruticosa (sundrops)
Oenothera perennis (small sun drops) 8/14/95
Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel)
Panax trifolius (dwarf ginseng) 4/22/00
Pastinaca sativa type?
Pedicularis canadensis (wood betony)
Peltandra virginica (arrow arum)
Penstemon digitalis (white beardtongue)
Penthorum sedoides (ditch stonecrop) 8/14/95
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Pilea pumila (clearweed) 8/14/95
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 8/14/95
Plantago major (common plantain)
Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)
Polygala sanguinea (purple milkwort) 8/14/95
Polygonatum biflorum (smooth Solomon's seal)
Polygonum arifolium (halberd-leaved tearthumb)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose knotweed) 8/14/95
Polygonum hydropiper? (mild water pepper)
Polygonum hydropiperoides (false water pepper) 8/14/95
Polygonum pensylvanica (pink knotweed) 8/14/95
Polygonum virginianum (Virginia knotweed)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrow leaf tearthumb) 8/14/95
Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed) 8/14/95
Potentilla canadensis (dwarf cinquefoil) 4/20/00
Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 8/14/95
Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia mountain mint)
Pycnanthemum sp. (mountain mint) 8/14/95
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (narrow-leaved mountain mint)
Pyrola elliptica? (shinleaf)?
Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaf crowfoot)
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup)
Ranunculus ficaria (lesser celandine)
Ranunculus hispidus var. caricetorium (swamp buttercup) 4/20/00
Ranunculus repens (creeping buttercup)
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black eyed Susan) 8/14/95
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Sagittaria latifolia (broad leaved arrowhead)
Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)
Saponaria officinalis (bouncing bet)
Saururus cernuus (lizard's tail) in fruit
Saxifraga pensylvanica (swamp saxifrage)
Scilla sp. (blue squill) planted
Scutellaria integrifolia (hyssop skullcap)
Scutellaria lateriflora (maddog skullcap) 8/14/95
Senecio aureus (golden ragwort) 4/22/00
Silene alba (white campion)
Sisyrinchium montanum (common blue-eyed grass)
Smilacina racemosa (Solomon's plume)
Solidago gigantea (late goldenrod) 8/14/95
Solidago juncea (early golden rod) 8/14/95
Sonchus oleraceus (common sow thistle)
Sparganium americanum (lesser bur reed)
Sparganium eurycarpum (tall burreed) in fruit
Spiranthes cernua (nodding ladies' tresses)
Spiranthes vernalis (ladies' tresses)
Stellaria media (common chickweed)
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Tanacetum vulgare (tansy)
Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) 4/20/00
Thalictrum pubescens (tall meadowrue)
Tiarella cordifolia (foamflower)
Tragopogon pratensis (yellow goatsbeard)
Trientalis borealis (starflower)
Trifolium agrarium (hop clover)
Trifolium hybridum (alsike clover)
Trifolium procumbens (low hop clover)
Trillium grandiflorum (large-flowered trillium)
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus' looking glass)
Tussilago farfara (coltsfoot)
Typha angustifolia (narrow leaved cattail)
Urtica dioica (stinging nettle) 8/14/95
Utricularia vulgaris (greater bladderwort)
Uvularia perfoliata (perfoliate bellwort)
Verbascum blattaria (moth mullein)
Verbascum thapsus (common mullein)
Verbena hastata (blue vervain) 8/14/95
Verbena urticifolia (white vervain) 8/14/95
Vernonia noveboracensis (New York ironweed) 8/14/95
Veronica arvensis (corn speedwell) 4/20/00
Viola cucullata (marsh blue violet) 4/20/00
Viola lanceolata (lance-leaved violet)
Viola sororia (common blue violet) 4/20/00

Rushes and Sedges:
Carex comosa
Carex crinita
Carex folliculata
Carex grayi?
Carex laxiflora (sedge)
Carex stricta
Carex strigosus (umbrella sedge)
Carex vulpinoidea
Eleocharis sp. (spike rush)
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)
Luzula multiflora (wood rush)
Rhynchospora sp. (beak rush ?)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark green bulrush)
Scirpus cyperinus (woolly grass bulrush)
Scirpus fluviatilis (river bulrush)

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem grass) 8/14/95
Andropogon scoparium var. abbreviatus (brome grass)
Brachyelytrum erectum (long-awned wood grass)
Festuca sp. (fescue grass)
Glyceria sp. (swamp meadow grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer tongue grass)
Panicum virgatum (switch panic grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)
Poa annua (annual bluegrass) 4/20/00
Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem grass)
Secale cerale (rye grass)
Setaria sp. (foxtail grass)
Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass) -- big clump of it
Tridens flavus (red top grass?)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern )

Sphagnum sp. (sphagnum moss)

Michael St. John did a little research on the strange cedar blooms we saw on our Torrey Botanical Society field trip, April 22, 2000, and he sent me the following e-mail: The naturalist at environmental center called it "cedar apple fungus." According to my mushroom book it is a Gymnosporangium (specific?) which undergoes part of its life cycle on apple trees where it causes characteristic Cedar Rust spots on the fruit. In an alternation of generations the other phase produces a brownish gall on cedars. We were witnessing the production of gelatinous structures which carry the spores which will carry out the next cycle on the apple trees. Paul Becker from the environmental center was kind enough to call me back with the information. He said it is a fairly common fungus where cedars and apples are growing in close proximity.