Batelle Darby Metro Park

During this trip I was assigned to document 3 different understory species with opposite leaves. The three good examples I found were amur honeysuckle, arrowwood, and flowering dogwood.

Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)

This patch of arrowwood was one of the first stops we made at the park. It has opposite leaves with large serrations, and very straight strong shoots. It gets its name from the Native Americans who would use its strong shoots to make shafts for their arrows.

Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)

Honeysuckle is another understory plant with opposite leaves. Its an extremely invasive plant that steals a lot of understory nutrients and sunlight, it spreads quickly and can easily destroy an area. Bush honeysuckle has a shallow root system which means it can be removed by hand easily. In contrast, other honeysuckle species that must be removed by machines to destroy the root system or cleared out with fire in order to completely remove them from an area.

Flowering dogwood (Cornus Florida)

This young dogwood was near the overlook area of the park. It is another species with an opposite leaf pattern, it has lateral veins that go down the leaf instead of the usual ‘fan-like’ vein pattern. At the start of spring dogwoods will bloom with white or pink bracts covered in small yellow flowers, I dont think this one was mature enough for flowers yet.



Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany.

My task for this lab was to find 3 members of the Birch family on our hike.

Smooth Alder (Alnus serrulata)

The first member of the birch family that we found was most likely a smooth alder tree. It has an alternate leaf arrangement, with double serrated leaves, and small cones as its fruiting body. The bark of red alder trees can be used to treat insect bites and skin irritations and the cones provide a good source of food for wildlife.

American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)

American hornbeam, also called musclewood or blue beech, is another member of the birch family. Its leaf arrangement is alternate with double serrated edges. In some cases distilled water made from hornbeam leaves have been used as an eye lotion. Hornbeam is a nice street tree and does well in maximum and minimal sunlight.

Black birch (Betual lenta)

Black birch or sweet birch has alternately placed simple leaves with double serrated edges. Yellow and black birch twigs have a distinct wintergreen smell when broken. Black birch differs from yellow by the branching side veins of its leaves. The bark of black birch can be made into a tea that can help fevers, stomach aches, and lung ailments.

Linking Geology and Botany: a new approach, by Jane Forsyth


Four instances of the effect of acidic soils.

Ohio has a very unique soil structure across the state. According to Forsyth most of western Ohio is made up of an acidic limestone, central Ohio has a mix of sandstone underlined with limestone, and the east has a more calcareous sandstone. Looking at the trees found in these areas gives support to this idea. At Hocking hills we saw a few large hemlock pine trees (pictured below), and some tulip trees during our hike.

Different species of hemlock trees prefer different ranges of acidic soil, but for the most part the majority of their species do well within a pH of 4.2-6.0. Seeing thriving hemlocks are a good indicator of acidic limestone soils, and these trees were in multiple locations around the Deep woods area.

This is the leaf of a large tulip tree found during the hike. Tulip trees can function better in more Alkaline soils but have an easier time growing in slightly acidic soils. It usually prefers the pH range of 4.5-7.5.

We also found a group of orchids growing on the side of a hill. Orchids are another plant species that tends to benefit off of a more acidic soil. The fact that there were a good number of them and they didn’t seem to have any issues growing shows that the soil is working to their benefit.

The Battelle Darby Creek park has a more calcareous soil in comparison to Hocking Hills, its pH is a little higher and can accommodate different species. One of which was hickories, on our hike I spotted multiple shagbarks, the one pictured above was no different. Hickories don’t usually tend to do very well in very acidic soils, their growth benefits from a more neutral pH.

Looking at the differences in plant life across both locations gives us good physical evidence to prove Jane Forsyth’s ideas on the soil composition of Ohio, and how it promotes species diversity throughout the state.

Geobotany question set:

The western part of Ohio is underlain with limestone that can be nonresistant in humid climates. Over time western Ohio’s landscape has eroded to a flatter landscape that covers a majority of the state. The eastern part of Ohio has mostly sandstone beneath it, and some areas of sandstone are underlain with shale, mostly the area around Cleveland. As for the landscape, eastern Ohio has had a lot of natural and water caused erosion, leading to many deep valleys, and steep-sided sandstone or sandstone capped hills.

Originally there were three types of sedimentary rock that layered themselves across Ohio. These layers were made up of thick layers of limestone overlain by shale that was overlain by sandstones. The ‘arch’ formed by these 3 layers helped form part of the Appalachian mountains in the east. The top of this arch exposes the oldest rocks along its crest, these old rocks are in western Ohio going north to south. Another factor in Ohio’s topography is the Teays river. The river was present in Ohio for around 200 million years and eroded a lot of the landscape during that time. Eventually the river was stopped by the advancing Ice Age glaciers. When these glaciers entered Ohio and eventually stopped by the steep-sided sandstone hills in the east, they created a glacial boundary (seen below), which can be found cutting through the Canton area.

These glaciers created a lot of glacial till that spread across the state, this till is glacial deposition of unsorted sand, stilt, and clay. In the west its mostly made up of lime and clay from limestone bedrock. In the east there are a few spots with high lime and clay but the majority of the east has very small amounts. The east and west also have different plant substrates. The west has more poorly drained soils, that are high in lime, inadequately aerated, and have abundant nutrients. While the east is moderately well drained, acidic, moderately aerated, with low nutrient substrates.

There are many tree and shrub species that are limited to the limestone and limey substrates of Ohio. Some of which are redbud, red-cedar, hackberry, hawthorn, and sedge. As for the high-lime, clay-rich substrates of western Ohio, they have their own limited species; species like sugar maple, beech, red oak, shagbark hickory, and white oak. There are also other species that are limited to the sandstone hills of eastern Ohio, these species are chestnut oak, sourwood, scrub pine, mountain laurel, and hemlock. Some of these species have determinants to their distribution. For sweet buckeye, they tend to have repopulation problems in clayey, high-lime glacial tills, which stops it from spreading north. Hemlock shares the same area as sweet buckeye but does not have the same issues with the soil and is able to populate the north and south but remains restricted to continuously cool, moist environments. The determinant for rhododendron was the glacial advance which stopped its spread down the Teays river, allowing it to propagate central southern Ohio.

Cedar Bog

For our third field trip we went to Cedar Bog (which isn’t a bog). Water gets into the preserve by flowing down the surrounding hills and into the aquifer below, from there the water flows up to the surface. Cedar bog is actually a fen, which is different than a bog, water in a bog will ‘clog’ and remain stagnant due to a layer of plan material that keeps the water from flowing out. Fens will ‘flush’ and have layers of gravel and limestone that allow the water to flow out of the system while making the water alkaline neutral, allowing for sedges to grow.

My scavenger hunt assignment was to look for 3 plants that had a high coefficient of conservatism. The three I found were poison sumac, dwarf birch, and shrubby cinquefoil.

Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix)

Poison sumac has red compound leaves with opposite placed leaflets. According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Floristic Quality Assessment Inventory poison sumac has a score of 7/10 on the CC scale. This species has an open form and too much contact with the plant can cause contact dermatitis, which can persist for a few days or weeks.

Dwarf birch (Betula nana)

Dwarf birch can be identified by its small alternate leaves, they have an egg-like shape with a toothed edge. This shrub usually has stiff brown branches that can sometimes be covered with a fine down. Their Ohio EPA FQAI score is a high score of 10/10.

Shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa)

This shrub has alternate, pinnately compound leaves that almost look needle-like, they have 3-7 elliptic leaves that emerge as a soft green and mature to a dark green during summer. In June its yellow buttercup flowers will bloom until the first frost. Their Ohio EPA FQAI score is a also  10/10.