Invasive plant species threatens Green-Wood Cemetery’s marine life

floating primrose green-wood
Floating water primrose was found in the habitat of Sylvan Water, the largest of four natural ponds at Green-Wood.
Photo courtesy of Green Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery has received a $20,000 grant to help eradicate an invasive plant species that is threatening to dominate one of the Sunset Park burial ground’s largest ponds.

Treatments to tackle the growing problem are due to begin this summer, thanks to the funds provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation last month.

Nanci Fioravanti, Green-Wood’s landscape manager, was the first to identify the infestation of the floating water primrose, known as Ludwigia peploides, along the margins of the Sylvan Water pond and knew to act quickly.

Known for its delicate yellow flowers, Ludwigia peploides grows in dense mats, reducing light and oxygen availability in the water, hindering marine life and slowing the growth of native plants.

Green-Wood’s horticulturists said that due to the primroses’ aggressive nature, it could be spread to other areas and eventually end up in Brooklyn’s combined sewer system.

According to Green-Wood, Sylvan Water — the largest of four natural ponds at Green-Wood — is central to a large-scale stormwater management project that will mitigate runoff to surrounding neighborhoods. It is also central to reducing the use of potable water from the City’s water system by extracting it from the glacial pond to irrigate the cemetery.

They say the success of this project hinges on eliminating this invasive species so that it does not spread through the new irrigation system.

To address the invasive species, Green-Wood has enlisted contractor GEI Consultants, to take on the project. Starting this June, the contractors will apply permitted herbicide treatments to control the primrose along the shoreline of Sylvan Water over a three year period.

It is anticipated that the other treatments will take place some time in 2025 and again in 2026.

The funds to deal with the primrose are part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Invasive Species Grant Program which announced nearly $3 million in funding for 43 project across the state in January.

The grant program provides funding for aquatic and terrestrial invasive species spread prevention, early detection and rapid response, lake management planning, research, and education and outreach.

“Removing this invasive aquatic species expeditiously from Green-Wood will not only eliminate the threat that it poses to the health of the other aquatic life in Sylvan Water but also will help reduce its spread into neighboring freshwater systems,” said Joseph Charap, vice president of horticulture at Green-Wood. “We are grateful for the DEC grant that will allow us to do so. Maintaining the health of our natural environment is critical to our mission.”