Flora of Pruitt-Igoe

I had previously only seen Pruitt-Igoe in the winter, so it was exciting and surprising to get a closer look at it in early fall color. Spontaneous vegetation is often characterized as “invasive species” — and invasive species are typically characterized as so aggressive that they can eventually establish a monoculture. But at Pruitt-Igoe, there seem to be distinct communities.


The Tree of Heaven-Siberian Elm-Hackberry community is located on the eastern half of the former O’Fallon Street (photo taken near Pruitt School).


A prarie, currently dominated by goldenrod and some sumac, is located on the western half of the former O’Fallon Street.


The Honey Locust-Catalpa-Honeysuckle community is located on Jefferson Avenue and Cass Avenue.


The interior of the site appears to be dominated by Cottonwood trees.

The variety of species suggests a variety of different conditions in the site — Tree of Heaven, for instance, is very drought tolerant, where Cottonwood is typically associated with more mesic areas. It’s also interesting to see that the communities consist of a mix of native and non-native/invasive species. The St Louis area is limestone-rich, so the concrete rubble at Pruitt-Igoe could be good habitat for some of the region’s native plants.

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