Plant of the Week: Allegheny Spurge

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 one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

In the understory of the Falcone Flyover, little pale pink and white bottlebrush flowers are popping up from the leaf litter. Patches of these ephemeral blooms glow in the sunlight that filters down through the now leafless canopy – a magical effect that inspires thoughts of fairies. These are the flowers of Pachysandra procumbens, or Allegheny spurge, and they are one of the first woodland plants to awaken in the spring.

Like many woodland natives, these plants bloom before the trees have leafed out, so that they can take full advantage of the strong spring light. The flowers are lightly fragrant and only a few inches high, but growing in drifts, they are delightful and eye-catching for a few short weeks. When the flowers begin to fade, the new leaves emerge in loose, light green rosettes that fade to a duller green, mottled with brown, as the weather warms. Allegheny spurge spreads slowly to form a well-behaved groundcover, which makes it a great alternative to the ubiquitous Japanese spurge, a plant notorious for devouring tree wells and row house gardens all over New York City. In somewhat warmer climates, Allegheny spurge is evergreen, but here on the High Line it is semi-evergreen at best; our gardeners remove the winter-worn foliage as part of Spring Cutback.


On the High Line between West 24th and West 27th Streets

Download our April bloom list.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects – become a member of the High Line today!

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