St. Louis Gateway Arch landscape – Why not natives?

by Betty Struckhoff

London Plane Tree - Platanus acerifolia

London Plane Tree

The St. Louis Post Dispatch has published several articles regarding the decision to plant a monoculture of non-native London Plane trees (Platanus acerifolia) for new landscaping on the grounds of the St. Louis Arch.  For example, read the original announcement, and this follow-up.

The articles have generated plenty of feedback, including a recent letter to the editor by Susan Pang, a habitat adviser with Bring Conservation Home.  In her letter, Susan points out the reasons to avoid exotic specimens and suggests we choose native midwestern trees.  Look for links to other articles and letters on the topic in the sidebar.

A few years ago, a similar issue came up with the landscaping for the new I-64 between I-270 and Kingshighway.  After the public raised concerns about landscape choices, the Missouri Department of Transportation met with our own Scott Woodbury and other native plant experts to revise the plan.  The result is attractive native trees and shrubs bordering our new highway.

We can make a difference.  You can add your voice to the discussion by commenting on Susan’s letter, writing your own letter to the paper and/or giving feedback to CityArchRiver, the not-for-profit organization coordinating the plan.

4 thoughts on “St. Louis Gateway Arch landscape – Why not natives?

  1. How much better it would be to have a variety of native mid-western trees for the new landscaping around the grounds of the arch. Not only would this make more sense ecologically, but it would be far more attractive and natural looking. I have seen civic plantings of London Plane Trees in Europe and did not find them attractive. I hope that if enough of us speak out, this plan will be reconsidered.

    • It is important to consider using all Midwestern native trees and plants in the proposed landscape for the Arch Grounds. We have many great plants to choose from and the project should solely represent what is native to our area. This would create a showcase planting and inspire all who visit. This would be especially significant for the folks who live in the Midwest so they can see what choices are available when they plant their landscapes. You can’t miss with native plantings, what a testimony to sustainability and the ultimate honor to our native plant heritage.

  2. This isn’t just an St. Louis/Arch grounds issue, it’s a legal and political issue. The justification for their current selection is based on the original (maybe from the 1960’s) description of the tree selection for the Arch grounds based on the (outdated) National Park Service guidelines which specify a monoculture.
    The Bonhomme Township Democrats Club has taken this on as a bit of a mission with the hope that we can gain bipartisan support for this.
    Every voice counts.

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