A Revised Checklist and Nomenclatural Guide to

the Vascular Plants of the Niagara Frontier Region:


Flora of the Niagara Frontier Region, Third Supplement










Research Scientist, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri

Research Associate, Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York



Published by


The Niagara Frontier Botanical Society


with the major support of


Kenneth W. Brandes in remembrance of Barbara A. Brandes

The Buffalo Audubon Society

The Buffalo Museum of Science

The Central/Western New York Chapter of the Nature Conservancy

The New York Flora Association

The Nature Sanctuary Society of Western New York







The Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences

The Buffalo Museum of Science

1020 Humboldt Parkway

Buffalo, New York 14211-1293 USA

















This work is dedicated to Richard H. Zander.



The cover photograph of Clintonia borealis is by Lincoln Nutting, and is used with permission.


MADCAPHORSE, A Revised Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the Niagara Frontier Region: Flora of the Niagara Frontier Region, Third Supplement

Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, Vol. 16(3).

ISSN 0096-4131; ISBN 0944032-57-5.


Copyright © 2005 by Patricia M. Eckel.

All rights reserved.







            The mnemonic device MADCapHorse is a handy guide used by field botanists. It aides in identifying tree and shrub species with opposite leaves (Maple, Ash, Dogwood, CAPrifoliaceae and HORSEchestnut). It is not fully discriminative as many of the herbaceous families and genera presented here also have opposite leaves. Most conspicuously, all Mint species (family Lamiaceae) have opposite, simple (but not compound) leaves as do several important genera in the Rubiaceae.


            This is a list of the species of vascular plants known to occur in the Niagara Frontier region. This is traditionally a circular area with the radius of 50 miles having its central point located in the City of Buffalo, New York, specifically “determined from the Telephone Building” (Zenkert 1934). There, the waters of Lake Erie gather themselves into the head of the Niagara River, a strait connecting Erie and Lake Ontario. The Niagara Frontier region comprises an area of about 7,850 square miles.


            The Niagara River has probably formed a critical link in the migration of flora and fauna between lakes Erie and Ontario, and generally the Great Lakes system as a whole. Species have migrated through the system through incremental advancement or through long-distance dispersal, for instance, as seeds in the bellies of birds. Other pathways include human-mediated movement along the various canals that bypass the great obstruction of the cataracts at Niagara Falls as well as canals up- and downstream from our area. One curious feature of plant migration regionally is that although the water flows from west to east from Lake Superior to the St. Lawrence River, the migration of species has tended to be from east to west, as with shipping in the Rideau Canal that connects Kingston, Ontario and the Ottawa river to points upstream.


            Other sources of regional plant introduction derive from western centers and may increase as the growing season is extended with warming annual temperatures. Extension of the growing season in recent times has also contributed to the firm establishment of species that were once considered ephemeral, not persisting beyond their first winter, or unable to reproduce through absence of, for example, a pollinator. Areas with shallow soils over limestone in the lowlands associated with the lakes are particularly likely to support introduced species and enable their populations to flourish. Introductions once commonly arriving along railroad vectors now seem to favor the salty corridors beside ever-expanding highway systems. Always, wherever crops are grown, associated weeds become established on field margins. With the real-estate explosion of the past two decades exotic species associated with nurseries and imported soil are increasingly established. Hybridization events or artifacts may contribute taxa, for instance, in the spread of Lonicera morrowii × tatarica.


            Happily, not all newly discovered taxa are foreign. Several recent discoveries of indigenous taxa have been made through vigorous exploration by field botanists who specialize in recording the localities of rare plants. A strong amateur interest has also produced many new discoveries of native and exotic species.


            George W. Clinton, Superior Court Judge and first President of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences published, in 1863, the first checklist of the “Plants of Buffalo and its Vicinity,” which also included references to collections from Chautauqua County, Rochester in Monroe County, and Portage in Livingston County. David F. Day, in 1882, determined the present areal definition of the flora in his new checklist. In spite of its artificiality, this range circumscription is superior to publications that restrict their field of study to political limits and treat only New York or Ontario. The floral region includes one of the most phyto­geographically interesting areas in the Province of Ontario: the Niagara Peninsula (Regional Municipality of Niagara), as well as all or most of the eight westernmost counties of New York State.


            The extensive early history of collecting and reporting in the Niagara region is provided by Zenkert (1934). It is well recognized that there has been a surge of botanical interest in the region beginning in the early 1980s, especially with the establishment of the Niagara Frontier Botanical Society in 1983 in Buffalo, New York. Many floristic reports and articles may be found in the society's newsletter Clintonia. The present list is an attempt to summarize all reports, to adjust the nomenclature of Zander and Pierce's (1979) list to the nomenclature of the standard checklist of New York State plants by Richard Mitchell and Gordon Tucker (1997), and to give local collectors a guide to what is already known and, by extension, what is yet to be discovered in the ever-changing flora of our region.


            The plant names of the Checklist are primarily based on specimens curated in the Clinton Herbarium (BUF) of the Buffalo Museum of Science. The online Web database of the New York Flora Association indicates that the Association’s distribution reports are based on specimens and such reports are therefore cited here. Where a report occurs in literature only, the bibliographic reference is given.


            Botanical activity leading to additions to the Checklist has been one of the central services that the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences has provided the people of the Niagara Frontier Region, in New York and Ontario alike, since the time of the Civil War. The Checklist, in its 1863, 1882-83, 1934, 1975, 1979, and present 2005 versions, has always guided and stimulated botanical activity in the Niagara Region, and it is hoped this update will be no exception.


P. M. Eckel, Research Scientist, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri











            To streamline citations, certain data flags were provided. Genus names are in BOLDFACE CAPITALS. Species names in boldface are accepted as well-established members of the flora, though some may be extirpated at present. Species names with an asterisk (*) are those thought to be alien invaders, adventives or introduced. Names preceded by an equal sign (=) are synonyms of the boldfaced name above them, being names previously used by students of the flora but now superceded by names considered correct according to the formal botanical nomenclatural rules, or are much-used but mistaken identifications and are identified as such. Names in Roman lightface are cross-indexed synonyms, alphabetized for ease in finding them.




            The list of rare, threatened and endangered species changes periodically with research results.  The New York State Natural Heritage Program may be consulted as to the most recent official designations.




            Many uncommon species are under pressure from human development and other changing conditions. Some have not been located for decades while others are only suspected of being lost to the flora. Though one cannot prove absence from the flora, certain species listed here are doubtless entirely gone from our flora. None is extinct, however, as they are present in other areas.




            To qualify as a member of a flora it is generally necessary that the species establish persistent populations. Locally, a minimum requirement for this includes survival of low winter temperatures, shortness of growing season, and competition with impinging species populations. The chance seed that sprouts but which would have died out for various reasons does not qualify for membership, even though the plant may have made its way into a herbarium collection. Most of our horticultural and agricultural species are not persistent and hence are not considered members of the flora.


            It is remarkable, then, the large number of taxa that have been recently reported as “new” to our flora. Undoubtedly populations of species once eliminated by the rigors of the regional environment are now persistent for a variety of reasons, such as the extension of the growing season, the amelioration of the lowest of winter temperatures and their duration, the spread of pollination vectors (insects), a possible increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and other factors enhancing the vigor of certain species.


            The present author can vouch for several garden species that appear to have spread, especially in disturbed areas. Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa), with its magnificent, orchid-like flowers, is not only established, but looks likely to become as vigorous a weed as Box Elder (Acer negundo) or White Mulberry (Morus alba). This is also true for Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), which springs up along the curbs of the streets of Buffalo.


            For more information on new discoveries, see the list of “Names New to the Flora Since the Second Supplement” given as Appendix 1.




            The World Wide Web has many features that allow the updating of information in this checklist, and provide images and additional information not available in print.


            An early, online version of this publication, with some images, is at Res Botanica:

http: //


            The New York Flora Association provides a plant atlas for the state:

http: //


            The Niagara Frontier Botanical Society is a regional resource promoting study and appreciation of field botany:

http: //


            The Buffalo Audubon Society supports and popularizes nature conservation and study:

http: //


            The Buffalo Museum of Science houses the Clinton Herbarium and has exhibits on botany. This is also an alternative name for the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences:

http: //


            The Central/Western New York Chapter of the Nature Conservancy helps preserve the diversity of life in the region through its well-known stewardship activities:

http: //


            The New York State Natural Heritage Program facilitates conservation of New York's rare animals, rare plants, and significant ecosystems:


            The Nature Sanctuary Society of Western New York has for many decades maintained sanctuaries for the preservation of regional plant and animal life:

http: //


            Michael J. Oldham has created an online database for the “Natural Heritage Resources of Ontario: Rare Vascular Plants: (see bibliography) with periodic updates



            My greatest debt of gratitude is to Richard Zander, who provided essential help with problems in taxonomy throughout the course of this effort. I thank James Battaglia for convincing forward-looking financial supporters, gratefully listed below, of the need for publication of the printed version of the Checklist. The fine cover photograph was taken by Lincoln Nutting and used with appreciation. Michael Smith, former Director of the Buffalo Museum of Science, graciously provided computer access to make the first version of this checklist public. John Grehan, Director of Science and Collections at the Buffalo Museum of Science, kindly provided facilities at the Museum for completing this checklist begun when its author was a resident of the City of Buffalo.  I appreciate the facility support of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Robert E. Magill, Director of Research. Carol Sweeney, of Niagara University, James Battaglia, and Joanne Schlegel provided useful criticism and helpful format guidance in the preparation of this booklet. Steven Clemants provided access to information on the rare vascular plants of Ontario. Grateful acknowledgement is also made to Irene Wingerter and Steven Zenger of Partner’s Press who provided crucial last minute assistance to the author.


            Special appreciation is also extended to the following persons for their support in publishing this Revised Checklist and Nomenclatural Guide to the Vascular Plants of the Niagara Frontier Region:


Dr. John Hodson, Joanne Schlegel (in memory of Blake Reeves), Michael Siuta,

Dr. Carol Sweeney, Dr. Alfred Stein, and Mary Alice Tocke.










Major political divisions in western New York State and adjoining Canada. County subdivisions are “towns” (equivalent to “townships” in other states) unless otherwise noted. The circle gives the area of the Flora, the area within a fifty-mile radius around Buffalo.