BiodiverseCity St. Louis

BiodiverseCity St. Louis is a growing network of organizations and individuals throughout the greater St. Louis region who share a stake in improving quality of life for all through actions that welcome nature into our urban, suburban and rural communities. Learn more about this effort, and join in.

Take Action Today…and Make It Count

Throughout St. Louis, every day, people are making big and small changes to their backyards, balconies, streetscapes, schoolyards, parking lots, and play areas. Some are doing this because they love nature and want to experience more of it in their daily lives. Others recognize that native plants in the right places help prevent flooding, clean and cool our air and improve human health and well-being. Still others embrace the positive impact that leafy streets, accessible parks, hiking/biking trails and other quality green spaces have on property values and the economic vibrancy of our region.

For all these reasons and more, the BiodiverseCitySTL Network invites each of the 2.9 million citizens of the greater St. Louis bi-state region to take action. In this spirit, we are excited to launch the Nature in Our Neighborhoods citizen action project. No matter who you are or where you live, all of us can do something to beautify, bio-diversify and better the communities in which we live, work, learn and play. To get started, check out our curated list of expert ideas and local resources from across our region, connect with others and share your stories.


Species Spotlight

Pleurotus ostreatus
Oyster mushroom.
Photo by Hamilton. [CC BY-SA 3.0]
Oyster mushroom
(Pleurotus ostreatus )

This well-known fungus can be found on many a hike in our region, found along the forest floor and high up in the canopy. They grow in shelf-like clusters on dead logs and dying trees, primarily hardwoods and occasionally conifers. The common name “oyster mushroom” comes from the white, shell-like appearance of its fruiting body, not its taste. The taxonomy of Pleurotus spp. is currently in flux, with some mycologists positing that P. ostreatus is likely a complex of species.

This fungus acts saprophytically, rather than parasitically. As the tree dies of other causes, P. ostreatus grows on the rapidly increasing mass of dead and dying wood, benefitting the forest by decomposing the dead wood, thus returning vital elements and minerals to the ecosystem in a form usable to other plants and organisms.

In addition to being edible (but only if you’re 110 percent confident with your mushroom ID skills, given a few toxic look-alikes) and relatively easy to grow, oyster mushrooms have also been used for mycoremediation, a form of bioremediation that uses fungi to degrade or sequester contaminants in the environment.

Fun fact: The mound a mushroom makes as it breaks through the soil/duff surface is often called a “mushrump.” What a great new word for your 2017 lexicon.

To do: Check out our “Let’s Map It” site of the month, and take a January hike amid stunning bluffs and welcoming winter fungi such as P. ostreatus. Whether you’re a novice or advanced mushroomer, pledge to learn to identify at least one new-to-you mushroom this year.

To do, when you’re stuck inside and tired of whatever’s on cable: Check out these micr0-images of oyster mushrooms killing nematodes and bacteria with no remorse. For fungal fans, this is the equivalent of watching lions take down antelopes in a National Geographic documentary.


Let's Map It!

Trailmap White Rock Nature Preserve

Located approximately 40 minutes southeast of downtown St. Louis, in the tiny town of Valmeyer, Illinois sits one of our region’s natural gems. The 306-acre White Rock Nature Preserve offers hiking, bird and wildlife watching, photography, and the simple rewards of strolling through woods or, as is possible from the vantage point of its hill prairie overlooks, the unique experience of looking down at soaring eagles and vultures. The viewscape is immense and sweeping. While history has transformed much about this special place, the landforms stand largely unchanged.

The property is a designated Illinois Natural Area Inventory Site for its ecological quality and importance. White Rock contains a mosaic of hill prairies and limestone glades, a large swathe of upland forest and is home to several threatened or endangered species. Looming above the Mississippi River floodplain, this richly forested landscape is part of one of the most unique, intact and healthy ecosystems in Illinois.

White Rock opened as a public place in October 2011, shortly after its purchase by Clifftop Alliance and Heartlands Conservancy. The two local nonprofit non-governmental organizations partnered for the project, and several “first-ever-in-Illinois” innovations followed. Clifftop and Heartlands crafted a joint venture agreement—the first such agreement in Illinois—to seek funding for the purchase, jointly own, hold and steward the tract, enabling its natural heritage to be held in trust for the benefit of future generations. 

White Rock website


Featured Partner Programs

Milkweeds for Monarchs logo   Bring Conservation Home logo   Operation Clean Stream logo   Show Me Rain Gardens logo