Glen Echo Ravine Area: Columbus, OH


The Glen Echo watershed is 2.6 square miles and drains the upper Rockridge and Piedmont Avenue areas. Glen echo Creek drains an area of low hills that were uplifted on the west side of the Hayward fault.

Observations: The entire Glen Echo Ravine area appears to be very fertile and moist, with much of the soil being a combination of darker soil and till from the river (pieces of shale throughout the soil). It appeared as though the area was fairly diverse in flora and fauna, this not being limited to a certain area of the park, but throughout the land following the river. The primarily trail/path taken through the area had been carved out of the surrounding rock, and was, for the most part, flatter, with higher ledges on the sides. One may assume that much of the runoff from local, residential areas surround the location makes its way into the ravine and surrounding soil, which may affect the flora and fauna in a negative way.

Primarily, the riverbed consists of thin, fragile shale, and the sides of the ravine sloping up to higher land consist of thick mud and olentangy shale, crumbling at the slightest touch. Much of the shrubs which were observed in the survey were within 10 yards of the ravine itself, still in the same thick, rich soil. Much of the woody species which were observe were anchored down the sides of the slopes leading to the ravine floor, with roots twisting in and out of the dirt, in some places, the dirt being completely eroded away underneath.


Some pictures were captured of the environment during the survey, with no particular focus on the trees, shrubs or plants:


A few new things were found on this particular trip:


Butternut (juglans Cinera), below

Similar to Black Walnut, with a shiny appearance and leaflet number varying between 7-17. Twigs and leafstalk bases somewhat hairy.

Peterson Field Guides; Trees and Shrubs pg.135-136

American Hackberry Tree (Celtis occidentalis)

Native to woods and open places, the tree has long, pointed, toothed leaves. The foliage is hairy, with the pith normally chambered. The wood of the American Hackberry is similar to ash, and the fruits, deemed “sugarberries” are often eaten by local wildlife.

Peterson’s Field Guides; Trees and Shrubs pg. 209

Herbaceous Plants:

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Standing out with its distinct, umbrella shaped leaves, the mayapple is quite discernable when looking at shrubs in the area. The plant is a deep green shade, but may vary in shade earlier in the season. The Mayapple produces a flower each year, which in turn precedes a fruit. Watch out for these fruits, however, as despite being harmless when yellow in color, its early green form is QUITE poisonous. Despite the fine line between edible and harmful, humans often utilize the fruits when ripened completely to make preserves, jams and jellies.


Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

With large, heart shaped leaves, Wild Ginger enjoys moist, acidic soils. The leaves are a bit shiny and the stem is rough. The Wild Ginger is present to Franklin County and native to the state of Ohio. Unlike other foliage nearby, the Wild Ginger maintains its foliage throughout the year, and shows its dark red flower at its bottom early in the spring for a brief time. Fun fact, the Wild Ginger, despite being widely used by the local human population and Native Americans, primarily as seasoning, but sometimes to treat illnesses and fever, is not enjoyed/palatable by the deer (and other) populations nearby.


Flowering/Fruiting Plants

Bog Aster (Oclemena nemoralis)

Leaves narrow/lance shaped, with light violet to purple ray leaves. Usually native to damp to wet areas. Slender stems, simple leaves, with one leaf per node along the stem. The Chippewa utilized the rhizome, or horizontal, underground portion of it’s stem as ear drops or in a compress for a sore ear. The receptacle of the flower is particularly interesting, with what seems to be individual triangular pieces molded to the outside.

Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, pg. 460



Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Erect plant, not evergreen, branching plant with racemes of white or pink flowers (not shown/seen). Berries are dark purple in color, although possibly poisonous along with the root. Prominent throughout the summer and fall, Pokeweed favors moist environments.

Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide pg. 200



Rhus radicans 

Just kidding, we didn’t touch it – all parts of the plant contain a skin irritant!! Poison Ivy is versatile, it grows as an erect plant,  trailing vine or climber, with three parted leaves, a thornless trifolate. Many identify poison ivy by its somewhat reddish color, although this is only seen in young or dying plants.

Peterson’s Field Guides; Trees and Shrubs pg. 130


Glen Echo Update: Mosses and Lichens

Glen echo, being as diverse as it is, is a landmine for so many different species and types of flowers, plants, mosses and lichens. For this post, some of the interesting mosses were collected from the site to be further investigated in the lab, where the lichens were kept in their original places in the ravine – don’t worry, there’s still pics!


Common Greenshield Lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata), below

Common Greenshield is a fairly common (har har) lichen around the Northeastern Parts of Ohio, such as Glen Echo Ravine, and may be found living on several different mediums – tree branches, poles, even rocks on occasion! Common Greenshield is distinguishable by its smooth, round lobed shape. Suprisingly enough, Common Greenshield Lichen was once utelized within parts of Mexico to treat burns by grinding the entire lichen up, and applying topically.


Lemon Lichen (Calderaria concolor), below

Lemon lichen, sometimes hard to spot, comes in a bright yellow to orangy color. It would seem as though lemon lichen is a crustose lichen by its appearance. While foliose and fructose lichens are often referred to as macrolichens, as they may be seen easily, crustose lichens, such as our friend below, is often considered a microlichen, as magnification may be needed to see this fella.



Ah, onto mosses. Mosses, although sometimes difficult or daunting to identify, hold a place in my heart. They are kind of cute! Eh, fine, don’t see it my way. Either way, check out these coo-al-dudes below


Yew Leaved Fork Moss (Fissidens taxifolius) below

The moss has leafy stems that are erect and stem out from base, and are two ranked, medium size. The leaves are semi -translucent and light green to very dark green. Yew leaved fork moss is often found in woodland banks or on the side of woodland paths in Northern America, especially Illinois. A previous study found the Yew leaved fork mosses actually thrive in areas that are highly visited/utilized as a food source by other animals, rather than with no visitors. It is believed that this is due to the visitors “reducing” the amount of competition via other plants that the Fork Moss has to deal with.



Creeping Feather Moss (Amblystegium serpens), below

Green, irregularly branched shoots form an interesting network, while the stems shoot up above, light brown, green capsule, white calyptra. Creeping feather moss prefers dead logs and branches, which is precisely where it was found in the Glen Echo Ravine site. Creeping Feather Moss is fairly common and a bit weedy in Northern United States, and is fairly similar to another moss, Tangled Feather Moss.



Glen Echo Update: Highest and Lowest CC’s

Here we will delve into some of the plants of Glen Echo Ravine in regards to their CC’s, or coefficients of conservatism. What does this mean? Well, a plants’ coefficient of conservatism is a numerical ranking from 0-10, which gives us insight as to how likely that plant is to occur in a landscape that is practically unaltered from what it was originally. We will be looking at Glen Echo’s  four plants with the highest observed CC’s, and the lowest.

Lowest CC’s

There were more than 4 plants with the CC of 0 that were obsurved during this survey, so an alphabetic approach was taken in sorting them. Below are the first four plants, rated 0, from our survey with regards to their alphabetical rank when looking at common name.

Black Locust (Robina pseudoacacia), below

CC: 0

Black locusts are part of the pea family and are deciduous trees. They thrive in full to partial sun and are very tolerant of environments with different soil pH and different levels of drainage. Leaves are alternate and pinnately compound, and the fruits are brown, flat legumes which are approximately 4 inches long each. Black locusts are considered invasive, and it is not recommended they be planted near other trees or plants. They are native to Illinois, USA.


English Ivy (Hedera helix), below

CC: 0

Existing as a vine with an evergreen leaf, English Ivy is native to Scandinavia, Russia, and was brought to the US by europeans during colonial times.The leaves are greenish to white in color, and thrive in partially to mostly shaded areas, although are incredibly tolerant to a plethora of different soil/moisture/sun environments. The leaves are thick and have 3-5 lobes in juvenile stage, aggressively climbing surrounding areas, while older, mature ivy is lobeless and non – climbing, producing a white flower followed by a dark berry. In the Pacific Northwest, English Ivy is often considered an invasive.


Goosegrass (Eleucine indica), below

CC: 0

A tufted grass, the sheaths and stem bases of Goosegrass are flattened, and it has a very strong root system below the earth. It contains 3-8 racemes, each 5-10 cm long. It has two rows of spikelets, and demonstrates small lower and upper glumes, with the lemmas being incredibly similar to the lower glumes. The annual sedge’s exact origin is questioned, but it is believed to have come from Africa and temperate/tropical Asia. It is considered a weed, and to be highly invasive due to its high number of seeds per plant.



Lesser Periwinkle (Vinca minor) below

CC: 0

Native to Europe and Western Asia, Lesser Periwinkle is considered an ornamental ground cover as it has a stark ability to form dense colonies. Lesser Periwinkle has blue to purple flowers (not seen here) with 5 petals, and the leaves are simple, opposite and entire. It is mainly home to man made or disturbed areas, and is considered invasive in many areas.


Highest CC’s

Northern Bog Aster (Aster borealis), below

CC: 9

The Northern Bog Aster has simple, alternate leaves, with strap shaped ray flowers and tubular disk flowers, which are both blue/purple in color, but occasionally white-ish as seen here. The Northern Bog Aster is found mainly in acidic bog environments, and was found within Glen Echo Ravine very close to the ravine itself in moist soil. The Bog Aster is confined to Northeastern parts of the United States, and interestingly enough, The Bog Aster was often used by the Chippewa Indians to make ear drops for sore ears.



Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), below

CC: 7

Bush Honeysuckle is a small shrub of woodland areas, and enjoys living in rocky, cool areas. The plant has opposite, simple leaves and terminates in yellow colored flowers, not seen here, whereas in the fall season has red berries in their place. Bush Honeysuckle, as it too, is easy on the eyes, is often considered a fair substitute for other non native or invasive honeysuckles. Bush Honeysuckle is native to Europe, Japan and Eastern Asia. Honeysuckles will spread very easily and are often considered invasive – when ridding an area of the plant, one must be careful to remove the roots along with the visible parts of the plant, as new sprouts will grow up from the root system.




Butternut Tree (Juglans cinera), below

CC: 7

Compound leaves with 11-19 leaflets, with twigs being grey/green/red in color. The white walnut tree has fruits which contain a dark pigment which will easily stain clothes and hands. The Butternut tree favors rich, moist soil, such as that near river banks, and occasionally occurs in wetlands. The tree produces yellow flowers in the spring, with the female flowers in terminal spikes and the male flowers in catkins. The female flowers gave rise to oval nuts, which were often utilized for food by the Native Americans throughout the area. The wood of the tree is white and is easily worked for woodworking, but is not as popular as its relative, the black walnut. The Butternut Tree is a Native North American tree, but is becoming increasingly rare due to an unfortunate canker disease.



Cut Leaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), below

CC: 6

The Cut Leaf Coneflower is a perennial that blooms around July-September, with daisy-looking yellow ray flowers and center, greenish disk flowers. The light green leaves are pinnately compound and deeply lobed. The Cut Leaf Coneflower thrives in areas with partial sun and moist soil, and is native and most common to Illinois. The flower of the Coneflower may be quite attractive to many insects, however its foliage can also be poisonous to some local mammals. The plant may spread quite quickly due to its long rhizomes.