Exploring White Plain’s Turnure Park!

Turnure Park

Welcome to Turnure Park! The park is 4.05 acres and provides some much needed green space in downtown White Plains, New York. The garden around the park’s sign was created and is maintained by the White Plains Beautification Foundation.

Turnure Park Trees and Grass

Turnure Park

The park features a paved pathway surrounded by different species of trees. There are over one hundred cherry trees (mix of Kwanzan & Yoshino)  which provide spectacular color every spring.  Turnure Park also features a bandstand, bocce courts, playground and seasonal restrooms which are located in the southeast corner.

Turnure Park Map

Google Map of Turnure Park

The park was dedicated to James Harvey Turnure in 1966 who was the deputy of public works in White Plains.

Virtual Tour

Cherry Trees Pathway Turnure Park

Turnure Park Pathway flanked by Kwanzan Cherry Trees in bloom

Great news! You’ve joined the virtual tour of Turnure Park during Cherry Blossom Season when the park is at its most beautiful!

Turnure Park in bloom

Turnure Park Kwanzan Cherry Trees in Bloom

At a little over four acres Turnure Park is small but pleasant. Let’s go sit in one of the many benches scattered along the pathway and enjoy the beautiful flowering Kwanzan and Yoshino Cherry Trees. We are in for a treat!

Turnure Park Trees

As we admire the flowering cherry trees we can’t ignore the numerous other species of trees found in the park including mature specimens of:

American Chestnut Turnure Park

American Chestnut with burs Turnhue Park

One special tree that we spot near where we are sitting is the American Chestnut! The picture above was taken during a previous visit but it shows us what the chestnuts will be encased in!

The American Chestnut tree that we see nearby was planted in 2008 by members of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, The American Chestnut Foundation and White Plains Parks as a tribute to Ezra Cornell who help to found Cornell University.

The American Chestnut tree was an important member of the eastern forest found in the United States. A wide variety of wildlife fed on its chestnuts. American Chestnuts began to die off in 1904 due to imported Chestnut Blight from Asia. The blight,  imported to the US via Asian chestnut trees, is a fungus dispersed by spores in the air, raindrops and animals. Check out the book American Chestnut : The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree for more information. Click here!

The American Chestnut Tree found in Turnure Park is blight resistant and appears to be overall healthy especially since there were chestnut burs present last season!

American Chestnut Leaf

American Chestnut Leaf Turnure Park

Near us are educational signs for the American Robin, Chipping Sparrow and House Sparrow along with bird houses in the field behind where we are sitting. Let’s take a look and listen for birds as we sit comfortably on the park bench.

As we sit we see or hear the following birds:


Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar

We see a huge green caterpillar slinking its way down a nearby a tree. It’s a Polyphemus Moth caterpillar (aka Silk Moth)! When it pupates it will be a giant moth with a wingspan of six inches!

Red-Admiral Butterfly

Red-Admiral Butterfly

As we are looking at the giant caterpillar a butterfly lands at our feet. It’s a Red-Admiral Butterfly! These butterflies are unusually attracted to people in the sense they have no problem landing and taking off on unsuspecting humans. Our friend here is quite happy staying on the ground before taking off.

Beautiful Turnure Park

Thank you for joining me on this virtual tour of White Plain’s Turnure Park! I hope that it inspires you to visit it for yourself (especially during Cherry Blossom Time!).


Lake Street and Canfield Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601 

Phone Number: 914-422-1336

Please note no dogs are allowed in Turnure Park.

Check out these great books on urban trees!

The Urban Tree Book

City Trees: A Historical Geography from the Renaissance through the Nineteenth Century

Urban Arboreal: A Modern Glossary of City Trees


Exploring Bass River State Forest!

Bass River State Forest

Welcome to Bass River State Forest!   The land comprising Bass River State Forest was acquired by the State of New Jersey in 1905 and is part of the New Jersey Pinelands Biosphere. It was the first State Forest established in New Jersey.

Typical flora found in Bass River State Forest include the below among others:

Some of the fauna found in Bass River State Forest include:

Virtual Tour

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Bass River State Forest

Welcome! Nature greets us as soon as we step out of car in the form of an American Goldfinch feasting on bird seed outside the Bass River State Forest office.

Trail Map

Using the below trail map (taken from the NJ DEP Webpage) as our guide we will explore Joe’s Trail (labeled below as JT) and the Absegami Trail of which only a partial bit can be seen on the map below right above the parking area in the lower right hand corner of the map.


Ready? Let’s go explore!

Trail Heads

Heading west from the parking lot we come to the beginning of several trails (the red blazed .6 of a mile South Shore Trail, the orange blazed 4 mile Civilian Conservation Corps Trail, the green blazed 1.7 mile Nisky Trail and the purple blazed 3 mile Falkinburg  Trail). We will be hiking Joe’s Trail (JT). The JT trailhead is just beyond these markers. After hiking the JT we will do a virtual hike of the silver blazed 0.4 of a mile Absegami Trail.

Joe's Trail

Joe’s Trail Bass River State Forest

We’ve arrived at the beginning of JT. JT is named after Joseph N. Trujillo who was an army veteran of three wars and was president of the Outdoor Club of South Jersey. JT is an out and back trail. The benefit of these type of trails is you may see something on the way back that you missed on your way in.

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel Bass River State Forest

Near the beginning of JT is Mountain Laurel. Mountain Laurel is an evergreen shrub that blooms usually near the end of May and beginning of June.

Pitch Pine

Pitch Pine Bass River State Forest

The tall Pine trees all around are Pitch Pines (the same tree that grows on the mountain ridges of northern NJ). The Pitch Pine is the signature tree of the Pinelands. The tree is dependent on wildfire for its cones to open to produce a new tree. Given all the development surrounding the Pinelands, many wildfires have been suppressed leading to Oak trees replacing the Pines over time. The New Jersey Park Service holds controlled burns from time to time to help prevent this from happening among other reasons.

Eastern Teaberry

Teaberry Bass River State Forest

As we continue our hike we come upon lots of Teaberry growing on the forest floor. Teaberry is favored by Ruffed Grouse, Northern Bobwhite, Ring-Neck Pheasant and Mourning Doves among other birds.

Pixie Cup Lichen with Eastern Teaberry

Teaberry & Flowering Pixiemoss Bass River State Forest

Let’s keep a lookout as we go for different types of plants that grow here in the New Jersey Pinelands. The dark green little leaves above are Teaberry. The light colored green plant is Flowering Pixiemoss. The “moss” in Pixiemoss is misleading. It is actually a low subshrub.

Lake Absegami

Lake Absegami Bass River State Forest

Here we have a nice view of the 67 acre Lake Absegami. Lake Absegami is not a natural lake (like most of the lakes in New Jersey). It was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.


InkBerry Bass River State Forest

Near Lake Abegami we find some Inkberry growing. Notice the dark black berries. This plant grows well in the pinelands.

We have reached the end of JT at a campground. Let’s turn around and head over to the Absegami Trail.

Absegami Trail.jpg

Absegami Trailhead

We have now arrived at the Absegami Trail. This trail goes through a cool Atlantic White Cedar Bog through a boardwalk and concludes by going through a oak/pine mixed forest. As we starting walking we hear an Ovenbird. It is said that the bird obtained its name because its nests look like old fashioned dutch ovens.

State Natural Area

State Natural Area

The Atlantic White Cedar Bog has been designated a State Natural Area. Public access is allowed in state natural areas as long as it does not disturb the plants found.

Atlantic White Cedar.jpg

Atlantic White Cedar

As we walk we find that we get a good look at some of the Atlantic White Cedar which grow close to the boardwalk. The wood of the Atlantic White Cedar is quite durable and can last hundreds of years.

View from BW

What a pretty place! It is always evergreen inside the tightly grown Atlantic Cedar bog.

Daddy Longlegs

Daddy Longlegs

As we walk we spot this long legged critter scurrying away from us. It’s a daddy long- legs,  a common arachnid of the Pinelands.

Sheep Laurel

Sheep Laurel

As we leave the boardwalk we enter the pine/oak section of the trail. Here we see Sheep Laurel. Sheep Laurel has flowers similar to Mountain Laurel and blooms around the same time but the shrub is much smaller than Mountain Laurel.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee Bass River State Forest

As we near the end of the trail we hear a bird song that sounds like ‘Drink Your Tea’. It’s an Eastern Towhee! What a beautiful bird.

We have now arrived back our cars. Thank you for taking this virtual tour of Bass River State Forest! I hope that it inspires for you to check it out for yourself!

Address: 762 Stage Rd
Tuckerton, NJ 08087

Great Pinelands Books!

1. A Field Guide to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey: Its Flora, Fauna and Historic Sites

2. A Pine Barrens Odyssey: A Naturalist’s Year in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey

3. Wild Flowers of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey

Check out the latest bird sightings here!

Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast (a field guide) Book Review!

Welcome to a new feature on NJUrbanForest.com! I will try my hand at nature book reviews.

Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast a field guide seems appropriate enough for my first nature book review. The book, by Peer Del Tredici, is certainly one of the best field guides to urban flora I’ve seen. This quirky book goes over a cache of plants that, while overlooked by most people, thrive in the most tough environments for plants: the urban environment. Both native and non-native plants are included.

Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast
Every plant includes the scientific name along with common names. Also included are:

  • Vegetative Characteristics
  • Flowers and Fruit (as applicable)
  • Germination and Regeneration
  • Habitat Preferences
  • Ecological Functions (especially interesting are the ecological functions of non-native invasive plants!)
  • Cultural Significance
  • Related Species

The book is a wonderful resource packed with photos that goes into great detail on the native and non-native plants that are found in the urban environment. This book helped me in my early days of identifying plants in the urban environment.

If interested in Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast you can click here to purchase from Amazon!

Please note that I may make a small commission for any purchase you may make through Amazon by clicking the above link.

Feel free to comment with any suggestions or questions!

Exploring Cedar Bonnet Environmental Trail!

Welcome to Cedar Bonnet Island

Welcome to Cedar Bonnet Island! Cedar Bonnet Island is part of the 47,000 acre Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The property was owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife back in the 1990’s but was not accessible to the public until the June 2018.


The wetlands and uplands that comprise Cedar Bonnet Island were severely degraded during the 1950’s due to sediment that was dumped there to create navigational channels.

45 acres of wetlands and uplands of Cedar Bonnet Island were mitigated and restored as part of the Route 72 bridge project. A one mile walking path and two open shelters were created/added for the public on Cedar Bonnet Island. 19 acres of salt marsh was recreated and 18 acres of upland was created. The uplands were created 20 feet above sea level. The 9.6 million dollar mitigation project began in February 2015.


Cedar Bonnet Environmental Trail Trail Map

Welcome! Today we are going to explore the one mile long gravel path which explores the different habitats of Cedar Bonnet Island!

Trail 2

As we walk notice the flowering plants blooming on the side of the trail. The white flowers which we see is known as Common Boneset. The plant is favored by pollinators such as butterflies.

Upland Habitat

The Uplands we see on Cedar Bonnet Island are located above the tidal flood zone. The Diamondback Terrapin uses the uplands of Cedar Bonnet Island for nesting purposes. Birds, especially migratory birds use the uplands for food and rest. Due to the location of the uplands irregular flooding may occur due to storms.

In addition to the Diamond Back Terrapin, reptiles which may be found on Cedar Bonnet Island include:

Marsh with Forest Community

As we walk further notice that the uplands are giving way to high salt marsh. High salt marsh only floods twice a month during the new and full moons.

Typical flora found in the uplands include:

Salt Marsh with Meadow

Here we see high salt marsh in the foreground with low salt marsh in the background.

Low Salt Marsh floods twice daily. Low salt marsh is dominated by Saltmarsh Cordgrass.

Salt marshes help to prevent erosion of land and help to absorb pollution. Salt Marshes are also a nursery to all kind of fish which means all kinds of birds! There is an estimated 245,000 acres of salt marsh in New Jersey.

Salt marshes do not contain a huge variety of plants due to the fact that plants found in the salt marsh evolved to having their roots submerged in salt water.

Flora found in High salt marsh includes:

Areas where Common Reed are present indicate manmade disturbance. Common Reed is an invasive species and thrives wherever disturbance has destroyed the original wetland vegetation.

Common fauna of coastal marshes include:

An unfortunate (for us humans) creature of the salt marsh is the Greenhead (AKA Horsefly) who would love to get our blood.

Bee on flowers

Eastern Carpenter Bee on Common Boneset

Cedar Bonnet Island contains acres of important pollinator habitat. The habitat consists of many flowering plants including Boneset, Partridge Pea and Black-Eyed Susans among other species.

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly on Boneset

We see evidence of many butterflies and bees taking advantage of the flowers as we walk!


Cloudless Sulphur (a bit on the blurry side)

Seaside Goldenrod

Seaside Goldenrod

Patridge Pea

Partridge Pea

That concludes our tour of Cedar Bonnet Island! I hope that it has inspired you to go and check it out in person!

The preserve is located off of exit 63 on the Garden State Parkway heading east on the bridge to Long Beach Island NJ (image below taken from the Edwin B. Forsythe webpage).

Trail Map

Great Books about Salt Marshes!

Salt Marshes: A Natural and Unnatural History

A Day in the Salt Marsh (Arbordale Collection)

Check out the latest bird sightings here!

Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!

Exploring the Larchmont Reservoir!

Welcome to the Larchmont Reservoir Conservancy

Welcome to the Larchmont Reservoir Conservancy

Welcome to the Larchmont Reservoir Conservancy! Today we are going to trek virtually along the shore of both Goodliffe Pond and Sheldrake Lake (aka Larchmont Reservoir). This hike takes place in the merry month of May so we should see some interesting plants and animals!

Welcome to the Larchmont Reservoir

Before we begin, let’s discuss a bit about Sheldrake Lake. The lake is artificial and was created by the damming of the Sheldrake River (a tributary of the Long Island Sound) in 1935. The lake is about 25 acres in size. The entire acreage of the Larchmont Reservoir including its woodlands, wetlands and Goodliffe Pond (Goodliffe Pond was dammed from the Sheldrake River to provide ice before freezers were invented) is about 60 acres.

Virtual Hike

Welcome! Today’s virtual hike will explore sections of the Sheldrake Lake environment.

Using the below trail map (taken from Sheldrakecenter.org), we’re going to explore a portion of this beautiful nature preserve.

Trail Map

Heading west from the parking area we find ourselves following the joint purple blazed .90 of a mile Upper Trail and blue blazed Colonial Greenway trail. The Colonial Greenway trail is a trail system that links open spaces within five towns found in Westchester County. It is historical and includes famous people from the past including Ann Hutchinson, James Fenimore Cooper and Thomas Paine among others. .71 of the Colonial Greenway passes through the preserve.

Bridge over Sheldrake River

Bridge over Sheldrake River

Let’s walk over this bridge to Cross over Sheldrake River (a Long Island Sound Tributary). The Sheldrake River drains a watershed whose upstream portions cover parts of Scarsdale and New Rochelle.

As we walk we pass the orange blazed 460 foot Mary Anne Johnson River Walk Trail coming from the north.

Bird Blind Leddy Trail

Bird Blind with trail blazes of the Leddy Trail, Upper Trail and Colonial Greenway

We have now arrived at a bird watching shelter on the shore of Goodliffe Pond.

Bird Blind View

After take a look lets continue on the trail where the Green Blazed .52 of a mile Leddy Trail joins from the north.

Now following the triple blazed Leddy, Upper Trail and Colonial Greenway trail we walk northwest following the western shore of Goodlifee Pond and enter New Rochelle. Shortly after entering New Rochelle the Upper Trail heads off to the west. Let’s follow it!

Upper Trail 1

We climb through a forest of Sugar Maple and Black Birch and come to a beautiful view of Sheldrake Lake.

Sheldrake Lake 1

After taking in the view of the lake we descend and find ourselves in a very green wetland.


The wetlands are filled with Skunk Cabbage along with other forms of wetland vegetation including Cinnamon Fern and Spicebush among others.

Let’s head back southwest to the combined Leddy Trail/Colonial Greenway to check out the Sheldrake Dam. 

Boadwalk Environmental Viewing Dock

Boardwalk Environmental Viewing Dock

On our way to the dam we see an observation deck and boardwalk jutting out into Sheldrake Lake.

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows

Approaching near the Larchmont Reservoir we spot a couple of Barn Swallows. Barn Swallows are the world’s most common swallow and they build their nests almost exclusively on human made structures.

Sheldrake Lake Dam 1

Sheldrake Lake Dam 1

We have now arrived to the Sheldrake Lake Dam. The Sheldrake Lake dam was constructed in 1935.

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron

We hear a rustle behind us in a tree and discover a Black-Crowned Night Heron staring us down!

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

Another rustle follows but this time from the ground. It’s a curious Eastern Chipmunk wondering why we are causing so much noise outside his front door.

False Solomon's Seal in bloom

False Solomon’s Seal in bloom

As we start to head back to our car we notice a plant with white flowers growing from the ground. This plant is False Solomon’s Seal. The soil here must be deep and moist for this plant to thrive. It prefers partial shade.


 Nice! One of my favorite plants is in bloom. It’s Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Even though the picture above shows the back of the flower, the spathe found on the other side reminded early botanists of a preacher in a pulpit-hence the name.

We have now arrived back the shore of Goodlifee Pond.

Canada Geese with Goslings 2

Canada Geese with Goslings

We pass Canada Geese with goslings when we hear yet another rustle behind us. It’s yet another Eastern Chipmunk checking us out.

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

We have now arrived back at our car. Thanks for joining me today on this virtual hike!

Unknown Bird

Directions (Taken from NYNJCT Botany)

Hutchinson Parkway north; get off at exit 21 for Route 125 (Weaver Street); turn right at the stop sign; drive 0.3 of a mile to the stop light; turn left onto Weaver Street; drive 1.7 miles to turn left onto Rockland Avenue; drive 0.3 of a mile to park on Forest Avenue (across from the trail entrances (either west or east of the bridge over East Branch of Sheldrake River).

Check out the latest bird sightings here!

Check out the flora and fauna that have been discovered at Sheldrake Lake here!

Excellent books on Westchester, wetlands and other environmental information:

  1. Walkable Westchester
  2.  Wetlands
  3. A Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America (Peterson Field Guides)
  4. The Warbler Guide