Battelle Darby Creek
3 Plant Families We have Covered
Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza clintoniana) Family- Apiaceae
Woodland plants with small umbels with white flowers in Spring to early Summer. The leaves have egg-shaped, toothed, deeply lobed leaflets.All parts of the plant are edible , and has been used to treat stomach aches and coughs. Many people use the leaves in cooking like spinach.
Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) Family – Liliaceae
Distinct woodland plants with leaves in a single whorl of 3. It has large solitary flowers with white flowers that turn pink as it fades. The flower is showy, funnel shaped at the base and flares from the middle. The flowers have 6 stamens in 2 whorls of three. Styles are short compared to the anthers. the plant prefers neutral to slightly acidic soils It flowers April to early June. This flower is favored as food for white tailed deer.
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) Family – Brassicaceae
An herbaceous biennial plant scented like horseradish. The leaves are stalked, broad, have toothed margins, and are triangular to heart shaped. Flowers bloom in Spring to Summer in small clusters. The flowers have 4 white petals arranged in a cross shape. The fruit is a silique. The plant is invasive in Ohio forests that overtake the forest understory. Garlic mustard is one of the oldest spices in Europe.
3 Mosses at Deep Woods
Polytrichum or haircap moss has the distinct sporophyte characteristic of many hair like calyptras on young sporophytes. The leaf margins of Polytrichum are narrow, toothed, and relatively erect. It grows like a green carpet 4-20 cm tall and can live for three to five years. Sporophytes are on a long stalk coming out of the moss. In the past the moss has been used for bedding stuffing, and in the manufacture of brooms and baskets.
Bryoxiphium norvegicum or sword moss has leaves arranged in two straight rows on opposite sides of the stem. These leaves are distinguishable from other like mosses because the leaves are simple and elongate. The stems are unbranched and grow attached to vertical sandstone. This substrate is globally very rare, so the sword moss is also a rare species of moss.
Hypnum moss also known as feather moss, carpet moss, log moss, and brocade moss is a common moss species in North America. It thrives in sandy or acidic soil and prefers partial sunlight or shade. The curved capsules of this class of moss are cylindrical and have curved lids. The leaves are curved as well. The carpet moss has been used to stuff bedding and was once believed to induce sleep.
Acidic Plant Species
Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) is a tree that grows in acidic soil conditions like the ones found at Deep Woods. The tree is native to Eastern North America and is common in the Appalachian Mountains. The fruit is a small woody capsule. The sourwood leaves were once used as a laxative, and the tree itself is often used as ornamental.
The greenbriar (Smilax ) is another plant indicative of acidic soil conditions. The greenbriar is a common and conspicuous shrub or woody vine that is native to central and eastern regions of the United States. Smilax is a monocot that typically has prickles and tendrils on the wood or vines of the plant. Some species of Smilax were used for medicinal purposes, the stem prickles being used for muscle cramps.
Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana) is an oak of the White oak group native to the eastern United States. It is sometimes known as rock oak because it can be found in rocky habitats as well as acidic ones. The bark is thick and dark gray-brown in color. The leaves are broad and shallowly lobed. The bark distinguishes this oak from similar white oak species. The high tannin content of the bark made this tree useful to tanners in the 20th century while the inferior wood was usually discarded.
Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) is an acidic soil growing small shrub that has broad to elliptical leaves. The fruit is a small sweet dark blue to black berry. The shrub grows in well drained acidic soils, and is a fire tolerant species that often increases in numbers following a forest fire. The berries are sold as food, and sold as wild blueberry juice.
Ohio can be divided into into two main geological regions. In the West of Ohio, the soil is alkaline and is made up of majority limestone substrates.This creates a landscape that is easily weathered down creating a region of flat lands that has come from yers and years of erosion. The eastern part of Ohio on the other hand contains acidic soils and sandstone substrates. This sandstone substrate is resistant, but permeable, which has shaped the landscape into hills and deep valleys due to erosion patterns along stream beds.
These separate regions of Ohio came to be because of the thick series of sandstone layers on shale, which was on limestone, which originally existed in Ohio thousands of years ago. The layers formed an arch through Ohio, and the highest point in Western Ohio was exposed limestone. In the East of Ohio, the sandstone was exposed, not the limestone. Due to the different properties of sandstone and limestone, erosion had greater effects in the West where the limestone was exposed. The Teays River, an ancient river system spanning most of Ohio caused the erosion of the limestone. Until the Ice Age glaciers advanced, the Teays River shaped the landscape. The sandstone layers in the East stopped the glacial advance however while the limestone was eroded all the way into Kentucky. Glacial till, the unsorted mix of sand, silt, and clay accumulated from the melting ice. In addition to the glacial, sand and gravel was deposited through Ohio from the melting of glacial water. Western Ohio on the other hand is made of limey clay. The clay in Western Ohio is limey and therefore water cannot penetrate it. Water then pools and causes this water to have low oxygen levels. This then results in abundant nutrient availability for plants on this type of substrate.. The opposite is true of the Eastern Ohio region. The soils there are permeable, acidic, and aerated, which causes low nutrient availability which is exacerbated if the area is a dry hilltop.
Soil type has everything to do with what species grow in the soil present. Unlike the acidic soil on this trip, limey soil grows plants like Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), and Hawthorn (Crataegus mollis), which could be seen at Battelle Darby Metro Park. Above, the acidic species seen at Deep Woods were discussed. The Appalachian gametophyte was found in the acidic region, but growing in a cavern. The cavern was wet, and seemed to be wet most of the time. The cavern was dark and away from direct sunlight.
Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is a fen that was left from the retreating Wisconsinin glacier 12,000 to 18,000 years ago. The fen is fed with water that comes up through hundreds of feet of gravel left behind by the glacier in the ancient Teays River. This water comes from the Mad River Valley and Urbana Outwash, which surround Cedar Bog. Water continuously flows through the fen, and the limestone substrate gives the fen its alkaline properties. This alkaline water allows sedges to grow in the fen. Many of the plant species found at Cedar Bog are left from the glacier’s retreat as well, resulting in a unique floristic makeup in the fen.
3 Plants Indicative of Swampy conditions
Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra) is a medium sized deciduous tree with grey bark that becomes scaly with age. The leaves are opposite, pinnately compound with 7-13 leaflets, which have a finely serrate margin. The fruit is a samara. The tree occurs in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern US in swampy conditions. The tree is threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer, and the wood is used to make baskets.
Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a woody shrub or small tree, which contains a resin called urushiol that causes skin irritation in humans. The leaves are pinnately compound with oval to oblong leaflets. The stems along the leaflets are red and the leaves can have a reddish tint to them. Poison sumac grows exclusively in wet, clay soils usually in swamps and peat bogs. Some botanists say poison sumac is the most toxic plant species in the United States.
Northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is an evergreen coniferous tree that grows naturally in wet forests, and they are particularly abundant in coniferous swamps. The tree is small to medium sized with fan-like branches and scaly leaves. The foliage forms in flat sprays with leaves resembling scales. White-cedar foliage is rich in Vitamin C, but due to the neurotoxic compound thujone, internal use can be harmful if used for long periods.