Flora – Wetland, Shrub, Grassland, Forest and Dune Habitats
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Despite the more than half a century of active use by
staff at the Center, Plum Island still contains
significant natural resources and possesses remarkable
scenic, environmental value and recreational potential.
The island has a mixture of rocky shoreline, sand
beaches, wetlands, and various upland shrub, grassland,
and forest habitats.
Several regionally rare plant species occur here,
including Scotch loveage, slender knotweed, and
sea-beach knotweed. A stand of blackjack oak represents
the northernmost extent of the range of the species.
Additionally, several rare species of orchids, such as
Spring Ladies’ Tresses, and carnivorous plants are
found here. In addition, the island is extensively
vegetated by several dozen woody and herbaceous plants
and this vegetation provides habitat that supports a
wide variety of bird and insect species. The large
freshwater wetland situated in the southeastern section
of the island offers suitable habitat for dozens of
wetland dependent plant and animal species.
According to historical data this wetland once comprised
one of the larger Atlantic White Cedar swamps (now a
rather rare type of wetland community in the state) in
coastal New York and there may be opportunities for
community restoration. The maritime dune community found
on the island, dominated by grasses and low shrubs, is a
New York State Natural Heritage Program ranked
community. This community consists of a mosaic of
vegetation patches, reflecting past disturbances such as
sand deposition, erosion, and dune migration. The
composition and structure of the vegetation is variable
depending on stability of the dunes, amounts of sand
deposition and erosion, and distance from the ocean.
Read more about the flora of Plum Island: From the Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society
2010 report to USFWS on the historical
and extant rare, protected & noteworthy plants of Plum