Olentangy Bike Trail (Near Neil Ave. Apartments)

What is it? The Olentangy Trail is a paved bicycle route that stretches from downtown Columbus to Worthington, with a significant portion passing by OSU’s campus. The portion I surveyed was located just north of Lane Avenue, near Tuttle Park. Along the trail there are many trees such as maples and oaks, many woody shrubs and vines, and a lot of common wildflowers, especially Queen Anne’s Lace and many species of Asteraceae. The area I surveyed was very shaded with many trees and some hilliness leading to the banks of the Olentangy River. I also saw a family of deer on one of my trips to the site, and the mama doe and her twin fawns were relatively impassive of me. I assumed they are pretty used to seeing spectators in this urban environment. When you are on the trail, though, it does not feel like an urban environment, and these deer helped set the scene.

Look closely for my deer friends!


Where is it? Coordinates: 40.014207, -83.015586, and the red marker on the following map screenshot-


Tree #1: Boxelder maple, Acer negundo


Fun facts: Boxelder maple is the only maple tree with compound leaves that is native to Ohio. The name “boxelder” comes from its former use of being made into boxes, pallets, and crates. This tree species is plagued by many diseases and pests, and usually live for thirty years or less. Source: http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/boxelder

Tree #2: White mulberry, Morus alba

Fun facts: The white mulberry tree is native to China and was introduced before the American Revolution to North America by the British to try and establish a silkworm industry. The leaves of this tree are the preferred food for silkworm caterpillars. While this attempt failed, the species spread throughout North America and has become naturalized. It is found in over three-fourths of the counties of Ohio. Source: https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=77

Shrub/Woody Vine #1: Amur honeysuckle, Lonicera Maackii

Fun facts: This honeysuckle shrub is native to the Amur River region of China, which is where it gets its name. It was brought to North America as an ornamental plant, and has since been used for wildlife cover and soil erosion control. This plant spreads rapidly and can make a dense thicket on the ground, preventing lots of native plant life from growing. Source: https://www.invasive.org/weedcd/pdfs/wow/amur-honeysuckle.pdf

Shrub/Woody Vine #2: English ivy, Hedera helix

Fun facts: This species of woody vine/evergreen climbing plant was brought over from England starting in 1727. Since then, this rapidly-spreading plant has terrorized many natural landscapes and native species. Although many parks, landscapes, and other green spaces recognize English ivy as a serious weed, it is still marketed and sold in the United States for ornamental ground cover. Not a very smart purchase, if you ask me! Source: https://www.invasive.org/alien/pubs/midatlantic/hehe.htm

Flowering Plant #1: White-panicle aster, Symphyotrichum lanceolatum

Flowering Plant #2: Oriental lady’s thumb, Persicaria longiseta

Poison Ivy!

The poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) pictured was found along the bike trail. It is trifoliate, which leads to the fun expression “Leaves of Three, Leave Them Be.” The middle leaflet also juts out a bit from the others, which leads to another fun expression: “Longer Middle Stem, Don’t Touch Them.” The leaflets turn bright red in fall and the vine can climb walls and trees like nobody’s business.


Moss 1: Common skirt-moss,  Anomodon attentuatus

Moss 2: Toothed plagiomnium, Plagiomnium cuspidatum 


Lichen 1: Rough speckled shield lichen, Punctelia rudecta

Lichen 2: Lemon lichen, Candelaria concolor

CC Values and Floral Quality Assessment Index

My species list:

Common name Scientific name CC value
boxelder maple Acer negrundo 3
white snakeroot Ageratina altissima 3
common skirt moss Anomodon attenuatus NA
common hackberry Celtis occindentalis 4
wild carrot Daucus carota 0
mock strawberry Duchesnea indica 0
canada wild rye Elymus canadensis 6
horseweed Erigeron canadensis 0
giant knotweed Fallopia sachalinenesis 0
white ash Fraxinus americana 6
white avens Geum canadense 2
english ivy Hedera helix 0
jerusalem artichoke Helianthus tuberosus 3
cow parsnip Heracleum maximum 4
black walnut Juglans nigra 5
canadian wood nettle Laportea canadensis 5
amur honeysuckle Lonicera maackii 0
white mulberry Morus alba 0
evening primrose Oenothera biennis 1
oriental lady’s thumb Persicaria longiseta 0
jumpseed Persicaria virginiana 3
toothed plagiomnium Plagiomnium cuspidatum NA
american sycamore Platanus occidentalis 7
eastern cottonwood Populus deltoides 3
red oak Quercus rubra 6
creeping buttercup Ranunculus repens 0
buckthorn Rhamnus cathartica 0
elm leaved goldenrod Solidago ulmifolia 5
field burweed Soliva sessilis 0
white panicle aster Symphyotrichum lanceolatum 3
common blue wood aster Symphyotrichum cordifolium 4
calico aster Symphyotrichum lateriflorum 2
american basswood Tilia americana 6
poison ivy Toxicondendron radicans 1
american elm Ulmus americana 2
white vervain Verbena urticifolia 3
common wing stem Verbesina alternifolia 5
sweet white violet Viola blanda 7
common blue violet Viola sororia 1
riverbank grape Vitis riparia  3


Computed FQAI = 103/√27 = 20.015

High CC Plants:

1.) American sycamore, Planatus occiendtalis, CC value = 7

The American sycamore is a deciduous tree with a wide canopy, massive trunk, crooked branches, and large leaves with blades. The leaves are alternate and simple. The fruits are globular and distinctive. According to wildflower.org, the sap makes a pleasant drink (not sure if I want to try it, though). https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ploc

2.) Sweet white violet, Viola blanda, CC value = 7

Not the best picture, but after comparing the leaves of this small plant to a bunch of other violet species, I believe this matched up best, even if you can not see the best leaves I found in this picture. The sweet white violet has a 5-petaled white flower. They grow well in cool, shady areas, which is exactly where I found this. If it had still been in bloom, my identification might be more accurate, however it had the red stalks associated with this species. The flowers are apparently very fragrant, and, like most violet species, provide good ground cover. https://www.lakeforest.edu/academics/programs/environmental/courses/es203/viola_blanda.php

Low CC Plants:

1.) American elm, Ulmus americana, CC value = 2

American elm is known for its overall vase-shaped form and slender branches. It is large and stately. Leaves are dark green and have serrated edges and are alternate and simple. This species of tree used to be very abundant, but has fallen victim to Dutch Elm disease. The wood is useful for making furniture, and the tree looks pretty on streets because the branches meet over the road without blocking the passage of cars. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ulam

2.) White snakeroot, Ageratina altissima, CC value = 3

I was not surprised that this little flower has a low CC value because I saw it everywhere at my site. In fact, it had a higher value than I expected. Anyway, white snakeroot is a herbaceous perennial plant that can get up to 3 feet tall with occasional branching. The white flowers have a “hairy” appearance and they turn into achene fruits. This plant is popular for insects and bees because of its nectar, but mammals will not eat it because of the bitter, toxic taste. Sometimes cattle will start to eat it in an overgrazed pasture, and the toxicity can kill them. https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/wh_snakeroot.htm