On last week’s field trip to the unique Cedar Bog fen, time was spent on a boardwalk and on a bridge among mosquitoes and dragonflies. Although not technically a bog, this area was still very wet and swampy. In this area, plants categorized as northern bog plants, prairie plants and mid-western fen plants all grow here. As signs along the trail and in the center teach you: bogs clog and fens flush, meaning that in fens, water enters as rain through springs and will leave by means of a stream, thus flushing the system. These unique characteristics came about when the spring was formed when the valley of the Teays River was filled with gravel transported by a glacier. Below area images of the beautiful land.
For the scavenger hunt, I was assigned to find three plants with a defense mechanism of some sort. The most obvious answers that came to mind were plants with thorns. The first plant I discovered was the poison sumac, Toxicodendron vernix, tree which is closely related to poison ivy and could result in one developing a skin rash if they touch the plant. Poison sumac can be identified by noting its 7-13 leaflets that are relatively shiny and have a red stem as shown below. When Walt Disney World was made in Florida, poison sumac was everywhere, so when filling in the marshy area, much of this plant was cleared (source: https://www.poison-ivy.org/poison-sumac). Next, I found the bristly dewberry, Rubus hispidus. This can be found as far north as some parts of Canada! This is identified with help of the bristles and 3-5 leaflets. This plant is a perennial shrub that grows in wet, swampy areas (source: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/rubus-hispidus/). Lastly, I found the plant northern prickly ash, Xanthoxylum americanum, which can also be found as far north as parts of Canada and as far south as Alabama. This plant has sharp, long thorns and can be identified by the 5-11 leaflets and lemon-like odor it emits when crushed. Partially due to this odor, it attracts bees and flies (source: https://the-natural-web.org/2017/02/18/northern-prickly-ash/). Below are images of these three plants in the order they were described.
Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany
Here at the privately owned Deep Woods of Hocking County, we saw an outhouse with a view, a beautiful waterfall, a swinging bridge, steep hills, and many, many plants! With our morning and afternoon spent at Deep Woods, we had ample time to examine and even collect samples of wildflowers, mosses, and ferns to name a few. I mainly took home wildflowers to press! Below you’ll see the bridge we crossed (not once, but twice), a magnificent rock formation we saw early in the morning, and the Dogwood leaf trick I successfully completed for the first time ever!
For this field trip, I was told to focus on lichen! Ironically enough, lichen is not a plant; lichen is a composite organism that is a symbiotic relationship between two different organisms–fungus and alga. Lichen can grow on a plethora of substrates including on moss, soil, logs, canoes, and fiberglass. Now that I know lichen can grow on tree bark, looking back, lichen was all around me growing up! I never knew what the mysterious green, squishy thing was on my oak tree outside, but now I do. On our hike we saw lichen along the trail in large groups growing abundantly. Below is the lichen I took home with me and have added to my room as well as other examples. It’s a pretty pale green color and was growing among mosses when we found it. The first image is the Reindeer Lichen, Cladonia rangiferina.
Reindeer Lichen, Cladonia rangiferina
Taking a deeper look at Jane Forsyth’s article entitled: “Linking Geology and Botany…a new approach” we can start with the location of Deep Woods. I stated that it was in Hocking County which is in southeastern Ohio. This would fall into the eastern part of Ohio which is characterized by sandstone. In comparison, western Ohio is characterized by limestone. Western Ohio has limy, clayey substrates that drain poorly, have poor aeration, but are high in lime and fairly nutrient. Eastern Ohio has sandstone bedrock which drains well, has good aeration, is very acidic, and low in nutrients. Examples of trees and shrubs that grow in sandstone areas of eastern Ohio include hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), chestnut oak (Quercus montana), scrub pine (Pinus virginiana), and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia).
hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
chestnut oak (Quercus montana)
In comparison, Battelle Darby metropark was characterized by limestone. Forsyth lists popular limestone plants as redbud (Cercis Canadensis), fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), blue ash (Fraxinum quadrangulata), red-cedar (Juniperus virginiana), and hackberry (Celtis occidentalis). Additionally, some plants are limited to limey substrates as well as ones that are rich in clay. Examples of these kinds of plants include sugar maple (Acer saccharum), beech (Fagus grandifolia), red oak (Quercus borealis), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), and white oak (Quercus alba).
Remember that cool rock formation I mentioned earlier?? That’s home to the Appalachian Gametophyte we saw. This can be found along the Appalachian Mountain as the name infers. During our hike, we saw it along the wall of the rock in a cooler, more moist region. Below is the rock formation where the Appalachian Gametophyte grew. Going off of Appalachian Mountain factoids, it’s important to take a look at the sedimentary rock strata. It is three layers–a limestone layer overlain by shales overlain by sandstone. This slowly began to form an arch which about 200 million years ago created the Appalachian Mountains to the east. The Teays River flowed roughly 200 million years ago but was still very important to the land that would once be Ohio because it eroded and shaped the land. It curtailed due to the advance of the glaciers of the Ice Age. More recently, Pleistocene glaciers invaded Ohio a few hundred thousand years ago; they were slowed down by steep-sided sandstone hills in eastern Ohio and has since caused a glacial boundary around Canton. “Glacial till” is deposition by the glacier composed of a mixture of sand, silt, clay, and boulders all together; in western Ohio this till is rich in lime and clay whereas in eastern Ohio there is little lime or clay.
Lastly, we shall examine the distribution of plant species across Ohio! Sweet buckeye is distributed along south eastern Ohio and does not occur inside a glacial boundary. On the other hand, hemlock is distributed all along eastern Ohio, and reaches much further north than sweet buckeye. Rhododendron is distributed in southern Ohio, but is located more centrally in the state.