Archive for the ‘People’ category

Orchids Are For All Ages

September 30, 2013

Liana Williams, age 5, enjoys botanizing and birdwatching with grandma (and NYFA Board member) Connie Tedesco. For the last 3 years they have taken a fall walk on Whalen Hill, near Hartwick NY, to find the Spiranthes cernua along the trail, occasional among the clubmosses.  Liana was the first to spot one this year and shows it off for the camera.

Liana finds happiness in an autumn orchid.

Liana finds happiness in an autumn orchid.


Norton G. Miller 1942-2011

August 6, 2012

This is the obituary of Norton Miller from the Albany Times Union newspaper on December 30, 2011.  Norton was a familiar face to people visiting the herbarium at the NYS museum and he will be missed.

Dr. Norton G. Miller, emeritus curator of bryology and quaternary paleobotany at the New York State Museum, died in Syracuse on December 7, 2011 following a 20-year battle with prostate cancer. Norton was born in Buffalo on February 4, 1942 and completed a bachelor’s of arts in biology at the University of Buffalo, now the State University of New York at Buffalo, in 1963, graduating with high distinction in biology. Growing up in rural western New York, Norton was an avid outdoorsman learning as much as he could about the environment around him. As a boy he kept a flock of bantam hens, roamed the woods with the family dog, Nipper, became an avid birder, and studied many natural history subjects with Mabel James, a local naturalist who was his first mentor. He developed an intense interest in botany leading to lifelong knowledge of many types of plants. As a teenager, Norton served as Miss James’ assistant on several of the Buffalo Museum of Science Conservation Caravans that she led to locales in the Northeast. During this time he was active in the Boy Scouts of America, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He developed an interest in bryophytes and spent several summers apprenticing with Dr. Stanley J. Smith, a bryologist at the New York State Museum, in whose footsteps he would follow several decades later. He graduated from Holland Central School in 1959. Following completion of his undergraduate degree, he enrolled in Michigan State University to pursue a PhD in botany. The topic of his dissertation, completed in 1969, was glacial and postglacial vegetation change in southwestern New York State, also published as a New York State Museum Bulletin. Dr. Miller’s research interests included plant systematics and floristics, especially of bryophytes and seed plants; quaternary paleobotany and paleoecology and the tertiary and quaternary history of the bryophyta. His field work in these areas led him to explorations throughout the northern latitudes from New York and New England to Michigan, Colorado, the west coast, the southeast, Alaska, Russia, Scandinavia, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and Japan. He authored more than 100 scholarly publications, gave many presentations, taught a variety of courses at multiple institutions including Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, collaborated with colleagues throughout the world, provided leadership to numerous professional organizations, including the American Bryological and Lichenological Society, and served on the editorial boards of ten journals. He is survived by his wife, Heather Swan Miller; son, Dr. Andrew David Miller and his wife Dr. Allison Miller; and granddaughter, Natalie Rose Miller. He is also survived by his brother Brandt J. Miller and his wife Lucy Leighton Miller whom he was visiting at the time of his death. A celebration of his life may be held in the spring. Contributions in his memory may be made to the New York Botanical Garden.

Saratoga Springs Tree Survey Off To a Great Start

May 1, 2012

Here is an update from Tom Denny on this important project:

On April 21, in celebration of Earth Day weekend, Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project launched our 2012 tree survey season.  The threatening weather held off and we had seventy-five passionate volunteers sign in, which doesn’t even include the nice turnout of kids who came with their families.  You can count ‘em in the attached photo, taken under one of Saratoga’s legacy American elms.  (A special thanks to Commissioners Michele Madigan and Chris Mathiesen, as well as Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, for their participation.)  It was festive, it was fun, it was gratifying, it was educational, and it was productive.  The energy was phenomenal and we accomplished a great deal in one day.  Many dedicated volunteers worked from 10 AM until the rain chased them in about 3 PM.  We followed that up with additional training sessions on the evenings of April 23 and 24, which placed nearly thirty additional volunteers into the field.  All in all, over 100 volunteers hit the streets counting trees this week, with an additional fifty having expressed willingness but not yet having attended a training session.  A huge thanks to all  !  This offers a strong sign of how greatly the citizens value our urban trees!

The tree survey is Sustainable Saratoga’s in-kind contribution to the City’s responsibilities under a DEC Urban Forestry grant it applied for a few years ago.  The DEC initially expected the City to pay $20,000 in matching funds to hire an external consultant to conduct the survey.  Sustainable Saratoga offered to organize the survey and analyze the data on a volunteer basis, and saved the taxpayers the $20,000.  The DEC grant enables the City to develop its first-ever Tree Master Plan.  Sustainable Saratoga will take the survey data, crunch its numbers through a forestry software called iTree, and produce a report that quantifies the economic and environmental  benefits of Saratoga’s urban forest.   This will provide the foundation for the City’s plan.

In addition to the survey work, we provided participants on April 21 with instructions for three tree-related activities:  a self-guided walking tour (with location and DBH) of seven majestic elm survivors in downtown Saratoga (and the survey has just turned up an eighth);  a self-guided walking tree hunt of the varied trees of Congress Park; and a call to the public to tell us their stories about Saratoga’s biggest, best, or just plain favorite trees (send your favorites to  The self-guided tours are available by request at the same email address.

Many hands do indeed make light work.  At the end of 2011, we had surveyed only about 23% of the survey area.  Early work done this spring had inched us up to almost exactly a quarter of the survey completed.  Since the April 21 launch event, the 100+ volunteers have already completed another 25% (we are now 50% finished) and have in their hands, actively being surveyed as I write, virtually all of the remaining 50%.  We expect to complete the original survey work by early May and have decided, given the enthusiastic response by the volunteers, to expand our survey area to include additional sections of the city.  Of course, completing the survey will not be the end of our efforts; it will really be more the beginning of an era of strong tree advocacy in Saratoga.    For more information, check our website or Like us on Facebook, at Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project (email:

What were some of the most interesting impressions that volunteer surveyors brought back from the streets?  Some great trees were noted, including a “new” legacy American elm on Nelson Avenue, some large basswood trees, some great oaks, and a beautiful slippery elm.  Many ventured into tree wastelands and returned to us shocked by the sheer number of treeless streets (or virtually treeless streets) in Saratoga.  Finally, the lack of tree diversity was a recurrent observation from the front lines.  In particular, volunteers noted the preponderance of recently planted Norway maples (green leaf and Crimson King) and Bradford pears, all of which are on the DEC interim Invasive Species List.

Happy Volunteers Ready to Survey Trees

Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank Taps New Collection Coordinator

April 23, 2012

Ed Toth, Director of NYC Parks Dept. Native Plant Center on Staten Island, recently announced the hiring of a new seed collection coordinator:

I am very excited to introduce Jeannine Strenk, our first employee, who joined us this past week as Seed Collection Coordinator for the Mid Atlantic Regional Seed Bank.  Jeannine joins us from the Chicago Botanic Garden/CLM internship program, where she assisted in coordinating and supervising the Seeds of Success program for the State of Wyoming.  Jeannine will be responsible for overseeing all collection activities as well as working with us to develop the MARS-B program, particulary with collection training workshops, outreach, website development, etc.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Greenbelt Native Plant Center.


Botanists Becoming Endangered Species

March 2, 2012

An alarming trend has been identified in natural areas management—and it has nothing to do with climate change! However, it does involve the potential loss of a ‘keystone species’ in the natural areas field: the botanist.”  Natural Areas News 2012

A recent study and report by the Natural Areas Association identifies the plight of botany in the U.S. – some which we know all too well. A New York botanist recently said, “Frankly, it’s probably already too late, as we’ve lost the key generation that should have carried real botanical knowledge across the gap to the present.” Let’s hope not.

There is also a list of recommendations. For the report CLICK HERE.

Botanist John Wiley surveys for endangered plants along Seneca Lake. Are botanists endangered too?

Aaarrrrrg, Learn About the Pirate Botanist.

January 27, 2012

Here is an interesting feature from NPR that shows how intrepid we botanists are. CLICK HERE to access the article.

Two NY Flora Websites from Michael Hough, SUNY Cortland

July 7, 2011

Michael Hough, botanist and lecturer at SUNY Cortland, has an interesting blog about the flora of Central New York and a website on the flora of the Northeast. To see the blog CLICK HERE and to see the flora website CLICK HERE.  The links are also posted on our links list. Michael has a B.S. and M.S. from SUNY ESF and is also compiling a list of the flora of Cortland County.  It’s nice to see such great flora work going on in the central part of the state.

Follow a Bryological Expedition to Cape Horn

January 27, 2011

Bill Buck, from The New York Botanical Garden, is on a bryophyte collecting trip to the islands off Cape Horn, the southernmost point of South America, with colleagues that include Jim Shevock, Blanka Shaw, and Juan Larraín. An excerpt from his most recent blog post reads, “For a bryologist, this is a paradise. The biomass of bryophytes, in this area that receives about 12 feet of rain a year, is much greater than that of the trees. The ground is at least a foot deep in bryophytes and the bryophytes sheathe the tree trunks to more than twice the diameter of the trees themselves.” Wow!

Follow his expedition HERE.

State Rare Plants Featured on Green Roof at SUNY ESF in Syracuse

January 5, 2011

When the new Gateway Building is finished that the campus of SUNY ESF it will feature a green roof containing New York’s largest living collection of state protected and rare plants, according to the Inside ESF magazine. – Steve Young

For more details and the full article CLICK HERE. Or see the entire issue HERE.

ESF Gateway Building when it is completed

State Rare Plants Featured on Green Roof at SUNY ESF

January 5, 2011

When the new Gateway Building is finished on the the campus of SUNY ESF it will feature a green roof containing New York’s largest living collection of state protected and rare plants, according to the alumni magazine.

For more details and the full article CLICK HERE.

ESF Gateway Building when finished