Beautiful and Deadly: New York City Has ‘Concerned’ About Its Mosquito-Like Trees

Neighbors in Landmark Heights, Brooklyn, raised concerns about dangerous black-peaked parsnip plants that grew from the boardwalk earlier this month. Their complaints included safety and a slowing of pedestrian traffic on the boardwalk, which…

Beautiful and Deadly: New York City Has ‘Concerned’ About Its Mosquito-Like Trees

Neighbors in Landmark Heights, Brooklyn, raised concerns about dangerous black-peaked parsnip plants that grew from the boardwalk earlier this month. Their complaints included safety and a slowing of pedestrian traffic on the boardwalk, which is just under 200 feet long.

The plants, known as black-peaked parsnip, are small flowering plants that are native to China, Japan and Korea. Black-peaked parsnip can also be found in the United States.

The plants are native to the area, but four years ago, they migrated south as the neighborhood made a slow trek westward and made their way into the York-Midland Harbor shoreline. The plants are probably most dangerous in the middle part of the boardwalk where they are the main attraction.

“I noticed that there was actually a huge number of them on the boardwalk,” said Paula Miller. “The flowers are also a danger because they act like germs and they carry any bacteria that they pick up.”

Ms. Miller, a local resident, said the plants forced people to walk through “these huge clumps, it’s horrible and people just get angry.”

Officials from the city’s Parks Department said they are monitoring the problem.

“This ‘black-peaked parsnip’ species has been relatively unknown to New Yorkers until recently,” said James Yolles, a supervising urban ecologist with the Parks Department. “Since the plants were first reported in 2013, there has been significant research and innovation at IS 72 and other urban parks that demonstrate how these plant species can become invasive species of concern.”

Mr. Yolles said other countries such as Australia and Canada are taking a much more scientific approach to understanding the problem.

“The city is encouraging collaborators to partner with and contribute toward a national spatial pattern analysis for the species to improve understanding of why this species is likely to migrate,” Mr. Yolles said.

Long-term residents can help the city track the plant through the use of a smart phone app, he said.

The plants are typically 30 to 50 inches tall and grow about eight feet tall from stem to tip. They are parasitic and grow from roots that are approximately 10 to 12 inches long.

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