Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Green-Wood Cemetery Receives $20K to Combat Invasive Species

A $20,000 grant will remove floating water primrose from Sylvan Water, the largest pond at the cemetery.
Sylvan Water, the largest pond in Green-Wood Cemetery.

Green-Wood Cemetery will be able to tackle the extensive growth of an invasive plant species that threatens to dominate the habitat of Sylvan Water, thanks to a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The $20,000 grant will remove floating water primrose from the largest of four natural ponds at Green-Wood.

When the tell-tale delicate yellow flowers of the floating water primrose (Ludwigia peploides) were found along the pond’s margins, horticulture staff acted quickly, according to a news release.

Sylvan Water is central to a large-scale stormwater management project that will mitigate runoff to surrounding neighborhoods and reduce the use of potable water from the City’s water system by extracting it from the glacial pond to irrigate the Cemetery. The success of this project hinges on eliminating this invasive species so that it does not spread through the new irrigation system.

“Removing this invasive aquatic species expeditiously from Green-Wood will not only eliminate the threat that it poses to the health of the other aquatic life in Sylvan Water but also will help reduce its spread into neighboring freshwater systems, and we are grateful for the DEC grant that will allow us to do so. Maintaining the health of our natural environment is critical to our mission,” said Joseph Charap, Vice President of Horticulture at Green-Wood Cemetery. 

The floating water primrose at Sylvan Water poses multiple threats. First, it grows in dense mats, reducing light and oxygen availability in the water, thus hindering marine life. Second, it steals available resources from native plants and slows their growth. Third, it is aggressive and spreads rapidly to adjacent land, where it behaves in a similarly invasive manner. Most importantly, because water from Sylvan Water will be used for irrigation throughout the cemetery, the primrose could be spread to other areas and eventually end up in Brooklyn’s combined sewer system. 

Green-Wood said it hired GEI Consultants to take on the project. The company will apply permitted herbicide treatments to control the primrose along the shoreline of Sylvan Water for three years, starting in June. GEI Consultants anticipates the application of two treatments this year and next and one treatment in 2026.