NPSNJ 40th Anniversary Pins at Great Swamp, 9 September

The NPSNJ has just received pins celebrating our 40th anniversary. You can get these at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Harding Township, New Jersey. We encourage all of our members to explore the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Harding Township, New Jersey! The NPSNJ day at the Great Swamp will be held in conjunction with the Great Swamp Fall Festival – a fun filled day of adventure and discovery.

Be sure to visit the NPSNJ table near the refuge visitor center between 10:00 AM – 2:30 PM your free enamel pin celebrating our 40th Anniversary. If you aren’t a member yet, you can sign up on the spot with your smart phone.

Membership News!

Our new membership system is now in place and you may once again get memberships at If you are a member and didn’t get an email from us, write

Volunteers Needed St. Joseph’s Healing Garden, Jersey City

St. Joseph’s Peace Care Healing Garden

Native Plant Society of NJ Hudson County Chapter is asking for volunteers to help us build the pollinator garden at the St. Joseph’s Peace Care Healing Garden at the corner of Magnolia Ave and Baldwin Ave in Jersey City.  We are looking to create a neighborhood task force of caring gardeners who can help us work quickly to prepare the ground for new native plants arriving in mid June.  We will be removing invasive species and incorporating native plants to create a garden space that will attract birds, butterflies and other pollinators for the nursing home residents and their families to enjoy.  

Also if anyone in the area has an old wheelbarrow they are not using we could use it for this project!

Garden Volunteer Days are:

Wednesdays 9:00am -11:00am

Saturdays 9:00am-12:00pm

We will not meet on July 5th or July 8th 

Any questions please email Kim Correro at 

Gardening for Nature in New Jersey from the Nature Conservancy

We would like to share “Gardening for Nature in New Jersey,” an insightful online piece published by The Nature Conservancy on native plants and their role in supporting local ecosystems. The piece outlines three garden types—Pollinator Gardens, Rain Gardens, and Container Gardens—that can be created using New Jersey native plants. It’s a resource that will be particularly helpful for introducing native gardening to your friends and those new to the concept.

This piece further encourages everyone, regardless of available space, to create pollinator-friendly habitats. It emphasizes that even small yards, patios, and porches can contribute to a broader ecological benefit. For our members who have been asking for guidance on container gardening, this blog post provides valuable insights that could help you get started.

The Conservancy also highlights the importance of Rain Gardens, an aspect of native plant gardening that our own society has extensively covered in the NPSNJ’s own Rain Garden Manual. These gardens not only beautify our landscapes but also effectively manage rainwater, reducing the risk of flooding and pollution run-off.

The Nature Conservancy’s work in New Jersey has contributed significantly to conservation efforts, particularly in supporting pollinator species. Their initiatives include transforming fallow fields into wildflower meadows and managing large milkweed habitats for monarch butterflies. A noteworthy mention is the Garrett Family Preserve, which is home to a thriving pollinator trail through a four-acre wildflower meadow, and the Lummis Ponds Preserve, boasting one of the largest stands of milkweed in the state. The Nature Conservancy manages a variety of preserves that offer unique opportunities for exploration and wildlife viewing. From the diverse habitats of South Cape May Meadows to the limestone wetlands of Johnsonburg Swamp Preserve, these areas provide a haven for our state’s native and migratory species. They also serve as vital conservation areas, protecting the habitat of species like the bobcat at Blair Creek Preserve and a variety of bird species at Maurice River Bluffs.

How to Update Your Newsletter Preferences

We get it, we all get too many e-mails. You moved and your chapter changed or you signed up for all the chapters and now you just want to subscribe to one. Either way, you’d like to pair down your e-mails from NPSNJ.

We use Constant Contact to manage our e-mail lists and while the service is great in many ways, it isn’t as easy to manage your newsletters as it could be. Here’s the key. Open up one of our e-mails. Don’t hit unsubscribe or you won’t get any more e-mails from us at all. Instead, right at the bottom of every e-mail from us is a link that says “Update Profile” (see below). Click on that and you’ll be taken to a page where you will be able to select which newsletters you want to subscribe to and which ones you don’t.

News from the Native Plant Society of New Jersey

We’ve done a little housecleaning here at!

We cleaned up our menu structure and, in particular, improved the experience for mobile users. No more digging deep to find chapters.

We also have a news page at As always, the most recent news is posted on our front page, but you may want to bookmark the news page where you can read the stories in depth. Those of you who use an RSS reader can follow along with us at

Since our statistics show that our guide to nurseries that sell native plants is very popular, we’ve updated that list for 2023.

We now have a chapter page and contact info for our latest chapter, Mercer County. Look for a news item about them in the coming months.

Join the Bioblitz on iNaturalist

Hervé Barrier, co-leader of Highland Park NPSNJ Chapter, one of the curators of the Rutgers 2023 Personal Bioblitz project, and a passionate contributor to the iNaturalist project (id=hb2000) wrote to encourage us all to join the Rutgers 2023 Personal Bioblitz. Click here to join:

Every spring, Rutgers organizes an online Bioblitz (a species survey) using INaturalist. This year’s Bioblitz just started and will continue until mid-May. This time window is particularly interesting because of the emergence of spring ephemerals. Rutgers students, faculty, alumni, and friends and nature lovers (which means you, NPSNJ members!) are invited to join the project.

What is

Fun and educational, iNaturalist is a world-wide citizen-science tool used by universities, nature groups like ours, and individuals. Anybody, beginner or expert, can report observations (picture, audio) of plants, birds, insects, mushrooms, any organism, or evidence of it. The huge amount of collected data is used by scientists, land planners etc. In schools, it encourages students to observe nature, develop identification skills or do specific studies. You can use a smartphone (or a camera and a computer). If you don’t know the name of a species, other people will help. If a species should be protected, you can easily obscure its location. iNaturalist is also a great way to learn about species. It has a sophisticated identification algorithm and can help you identify species in the field, or at least make a good guess that other iNaturalist members can help narrow in.

NPSNJ President Randi Eckel in the News and on the Air

NPSNJ President Randi Eckel has been in the news lately, quoted on how to properly clean up your garden (and not throw all the pollinators away!) in the Washington Post and talking with Shannon Trimboli in the Backyard Ecology Podcast.

Learn all about flowers and pollinators, how to make your garden beautiful while making it a positive place for wildlife, and how Randi’s search for a red oak to plant led her to found Toadshade Wildflower Farm.

2023 Plants of the Year

Members elected Claytonia virginica var hammondiae, Hammond’s Spring Beauty, Rare Plant of the Year and Pycnanthemum muticum, Clustered Mountainmint, Backyard Perennial of the Year at our 2023 Annual Meeting.

Read all about the great plants that we considered here.

2023 Rare Plant of the Year

Text by Bobbie J Herbs

Claytonia virginica var hammondiae
Hammond’s Spring Beauty

Claytonia virginica, Spring Beauty, can be found along roadsides and woodland edges in New Jersey. The beautiful flowers with pink guides for early and small pollinators and pink stamens open on a sunny day and remain closed at night or under cloud cover. There are two forms of Spring Beauty that feature yellow. Found in Pennsylvania and Maryland is a pale-yellow form, var. forma lutea. The rarest form, and classified as Endangered in New Jersey by the USDA NRCS, is Claytonia virginica var. hammondiae. This is one of the nominees for the Native Plant Society of New Jersey’s Plant of the Year.

Claytonia virginica var. hammondiae, or Hammond’s Spring Beauty is found in exceptionally wet and acidic areas on the Kittatinny Mountains of Sussex County. This is the single location for this species, although some speculate it may also exist in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Hammond’s Spring Beauty is distinguished by bright yellow petals, orange nectar guides and white anthers. Smooth, grass-like leaves come in pairs and occur halfway up the stem. This is a low plant offering flowers on a 4-16” stem. A spring ephemeral, the plant disappears after the seed capsule ripens in early summer.

Discovered by Emilie K. Hammond more than five decades ago, the naturalist noticed something odd about this field of flowers. They reminded her of common Spring Beauty yet were yellow in color.

At the time, Hammond reported her findings to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden where it was categorized as another Spring Beauty. Years later David Snyder, former NJ state botanist, investigated further and was astonished by every bloom being yellow with no other flower color variations in the field. It was then, that the Nature Conservancy took note and purchased the 77-acre tract in the 1990’s.

This tract is the ‘only place on Earth’ Hammond’s Spring Beauty exists. Quoted in an article for by James M. O’Neill on May 12, 2017, Scott Sherwood, the land steward for several preserves owned by the Nature Conservancy stated, “This meadow is a rare inland acidic seep. The groundwater comes up out of cracks in the bedrock and runs along the top of the bedrock. The water is pretty acidic, with a pH of 5.5 or so.”

Second photo credit: Jim Wright

2023 Backyard Perennial of the Year

Text by John Suskewich

Pycnanthemum muticum
Clustered Mountainmint

All of the mountainmints have at least one outstanding trait, but Pycnanthemum muticum, probably the most commonly available, has several. It spreads, but not maddeningly, it has a delightful minty scent, and before its small, pink flowers appear in mid to late summer it develops pale bracts that give the whole plant a very ethereal look. Those bracts persist into fall, making each stem look as if the tip were a silvery-white poinsettia cutting. This is a very low-maintenance native perennial that naturalizes happily and tolerates almost any conditions except prolonged drought or deepest shade. It is very useful for its end-of-the-season impact in the garden.

There are many species of mountainmints native to New Jersey. Like its cousins in the plant family Lamiaceae, the mints, clustered mountain mint will spread, but this tendency can be easily thwarted with a little root pruning with a small spade in the spring. Planting it will have a host of beneficial insects, like ladybugs, hosanning you just before they start to attack their next meal of aphids. It is an important nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators and is very deer resistant. Mountainmints are another important plant in the ethnobotany of Native American who used it to treat fevers, GI issues, and other physical bugs. That mint taste makes for a pleasant herbal tea.
This two to three-foot perennial usually becomes a clump probably twice that in width. The ovate rounded, pointy leaves are deep green throughout the growing season. In the wild, clustered mountainmint grows in fields and woodland edges and is a fine addition to a meadow garden but is so adaptable it can even be used in a rain garden. Because its runners root so readily, propagation is easy by digging up its offsets.
We recommend this native plant for its late-season beauty, ability to naturalize easily, and importance for insects and other wildlife.

Photo credit: Toadshade Wildflower Farm