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

Northern flicker
Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). Photo by Litzsinger Road Ecology Center.
Taking a cue from woodland wildflowers

We wait for them patiently. When we see the first ones poking through the mottled brown, leaf-litter forest floor, we get kind of nerdy (some of us more than others—you know who you are). We stoop as low as we can go to get the closest, most intimate look possible, perhaps for that perfect shot, or simply to marvel at the micro-details of flowers and forms. We know their delicate blooms are short-lived, strategically capturing the first warming rays of sun shining through a still-leafless canopy above. Happening upon them in places where they’re growing naturally is like spotting tossed jewels that spilled out of a treasure chest. It really is magical.

These are the opening acts of spring—the woodland wildflowers. The lessons they teach us are timeless. Find a place and community to flourish. Be strategic. Grab the light when you can. You can be strong and sensitive at the same time. Life is short—be brilliant, but not obnoxious. It is hard for us to pick a single favorite among our local star-studded cast; we applaud and welcome them all back this month before they exit stage left in May: The delicate white and pale pink blooms of hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). The more colorful celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica), phloxes, and violets. The enchanting Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans) and yellow lady slipper orchids (Cypripedium calceolus). We are deeply in love with them all.

To do: Join Heartlands Conservancy and SIUE biology faculty for a Wildflower Walk in Bohm Woods Nature Reserve, the only remaining old growth forest in Madison County.

To do, if you want to get in touch with your inner nature nerd:
Register for a class. Specifically, Wildflower Identification and Ecology at Shaw Nature Reserve. We promise you’ll feel smarter and cooler afterwards.

To do, if you’re up for a day trip:
Visit this month’s “Let’s Map It” feature site—Meramec State Park. Wildflowers abound here for many reasons, among them the fact that this park and others like it are managed with prescribed fire, a tactic that enables native plant populations, including wildflowers, to flourish.
Great Reads

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re shining a deserving spotlight on a handful of local women scientists whose work advances humankind’s understanding of the living world. Each has their own story of how they got interested in their respective fields, and what motivates them now to continue challenging themselves and others. Share their impressive work with young people, especially young women, looking for people who’ve blended personal passions with professional pathways:

Allison Miller, Professor of Biology, Saint Louis University
Julie Claussen: Fisheries Biologist, Illinois Natural History Survey
Monica Carlsen: Assistant Scientist, Missouri Botanical Garden
Tara Beveroth: Ornithologist, Illinois Natural History Survey


Let's Map It!

Meramec State Park map Meramec State Park
Early spring hiking along cool, moist creek bottoms remains one of our favorite ways to wake up our winter-selves and welcome fresh beginnings. Meramec State Park, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis near Sullivan, Missouri, is a perfect place for such an awakening, offering 16 miles of trails with names that make us smile: Walking Fern Trail, Natural Wonders Trail, Wilderness Trail, Bluff View Trail, River Trail, Deer Hollow Trail.

If spring ephemerals are what you’re seeking, we recommend the Natural Wonders Trail and Bluff View trail, likely dotted this time of year with rue anemone, spring beauty, trout lily, and toothwort along the river bottomland and phlox and violets brightening the bluff tops. If you’re seeking a more physically challenging way to wake up, we recommend the Wilderness Trail, the park’s longest at 8.5 miles. While hiking this stretch, imagine the previous generations of people who created and cared for the trails—the Civilian Conservation Corps from the 1930s, local Boy Scouts from the 1970s, and hundreds of Ozark Trail volunteers over the past decades. The north section of this trail takes you through the heart of the Meramec Upland Forest Natural Area, a mix of Ozark natural communities, crisp air, birdsong, and beauty. Let’s hike!

Meramec State Park website


Featured Partner Programs

Milkweeds for Monarchs logo   Bring Conservation Home logo   Operation Clean Stream logo   Show Me Rain Gardens logo
A Community Initiative to Promote, Protect and Plan for Biodiversity Throughout the Greater St. Louis Region

Participate in the STL City Nature Challenge 2018

City Nature Challenge

April 27–30
The challenge is to see which city and/or region can document the most species over a four-day period. The goals are increased eco-literacy in the City of St. Louis and the bi-state region and collection of urban biodiversity data throughout the City and region. Follow competition

St. Louis City Events
St. Louis Regional Events
Participant Guide
Educator Guide
Field ID Guides

Update: Friday, May 4
Together, as fellow citizens within the City of St. Louis and the 16 counties making up our bi-state region, we made 10,482 observations of 1,023 species with the help of more than 642 people. TAKE A BOW!

Kudos to San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Hong Kong and metro regions across the U.S. and world for their impressive results! While this was St. Louis' first foray into the global challenge, we came in first in the Midwest region...again, TAKE A BOW, ST. LOUIS! Final leaderboard

THANK YOU! We are so incredibly inspired by all of you who jumped in with us to take on this Challenge. Your enthusiasm, expertise, creativity, and willingness to collaborate is what brought the experience to life for all participants. We learned a great deal, thanks to all of you, and are already excited about ideas and strategies for next year. For now, though, let's take a moment to reflect on what we pulled off together, all in the spirit of connecting people with the biodiversity all around them. How incredibly gratifying and energizing!

Gratefully, Your STL City Nature Challenge organizing team:

  • Catherine Werner (City of St. Louis) 
  • Sheila Voss, Jennifer Hartley, and Betsy Crites (Missouri Botanical Garden)
  • Louise Bradshaw and Mike Dawson (Saint Louis Zoo)
  • Josh Ward (Missouri Department of Conservation) 
  • Peggy James Nacke (Academy of Science St. Louis


Nearby Nature

Nearby Nature map

Spend more of your time exploring and stewarding St. Louis' great outdoors. Download our Nearby Nature Map featuring 50 places to love and more than 100 things to do!