Thursday, October 31, 2013

High Line Field Trip: Native Plant Ecology

One of the moms in our homeschool group organized a field trip to the High Line, a city park on what used to be an elevated freight rail line, but is now a garden filled with native plants and art, and an amazing new perspective on the city. We had never been there before, so we eagerly signed up for the trip. It did not disappoint! The place is amazing, and seeing it with friends was a joy.

The kids learned about the history of the High Line, and then went on a walk where they learned about various plants native to New York, many of which were used medicinally by the Lenape, who lived here long before the European influx.


Sumac: Fruit used for coughs and sore throats, bark as an astringent and to stop bleeding.


Horsetail: used medicinally and also bundled and used for scouring and polishing.


Cattail: roots used medicinally for headache and stomach ache. Seeds used for insulation and cushioning. Stalks used as building material.

milkweedbugsoncattail cattailseeds

Chokeberry: edible but sour tasting berries.


Mountain Mint:


Afterwards, they learned about local food webs, and each kid was assigned a plant or animal, and they made a web model by connecting predators and prey with rope.

highlinefoodwebassign highline2foodweb

Next, they each picked a particular plant to study and drew it and filled out a worksheet with their observations.

plantstudy plantstudy2

When the workshop ended, Mikro and I missed finding the elevator down to the street, so we decided to walk to the next one, grabbing the opportunity to explore further. In many places, you can see echoes of the park's railroad beginnings.


It's really fun to see the city from an unaccustomed angle. Being high up and looking down at the streets, and eye level with the buildings, was surreal! And there were some amazing views.

mikroathighline1 empirestateview1

difftperspective hl3 empirestateview2

And there was art to see:

brokenbridgeiplaquei brokenbridgeii sculpture

We had fun finding plants in every color of the rainbow:

flowers red sumac2

magenta orange

orange2 fallcolor

orange3 yellow rails2

green blue violet

And there was lots of white and browns as well:

white white2 white3

brown2 brown

The park is very visitor friendly. There are lots of places to sit and enjoy the remarkable sights.

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We peeked into people's patios and yards, saw amazing architecture, enjoyed a surprising garden growing high above the ground, and wondered why we never took the time to visit before. We will definitely be back!

blackbasketchairs lanterns

Mikro had a great time!


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