Plant of the Week: Wild Quinine

Wild Quinine Wild quinine grows on the High Line from West 16th through West 20th Streets.

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees — each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

In the late summer, you may notice clusters of small, white, pearl-like flowers populating the High Line from 16th through 20th Streets. They belong to wild quinine, Parthenium integrifolium, a leafy plant native to various regions of the United States, including New York. The disk-like flower heads are grouped to form a sea of white florets, protected by the resilient, coarse leaves surrounding them.

Also known as American feverfew, wild quinine was once used in folk medicine, much like the more well known quinine found in the bark of the cinchona tree. Originally used by Native Americans, the plant is said to sooth burns and be an effective diuretic. Due to a limited supply of cinchona bark during World War I, wild quinine was employed as a substitute in the treatment of malaria. Today, however, the medicinal uses of the plant have been abandoned, and it is mainly used as a decorative feature in wild flower gardens.

On the High Line from West 16th through West 20th Streets

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