Due to the unique geological aspects of Ohio, it can be divided into two sides, the Western side and the Eastern side. Western Ohio has a very flat landscape with underlying rock composed of limestone. Eastern Ohio is almost the exact opposite with a landscape that is comprised of deep valleys, highlands and lowlands, and steep-sloping hills. The two different landscape characteristics is due to the glacier that formed a few hundred thousand years ago. This also lead to different substrate compositions in western and eastern Ohio. In the west, the substrate is limey and clayey with poor drainage, low pH, and high nutrient supplies. In contrast, eastern Ohio has a substrate that is very dry with high aeration, low acidity, and low levels of nutrients.  This causes each side of Ohio to have unique botanical characteristics. In western Ohio you will see trees and shrubs such as Redbud, red cedar, hackberry, blue ash, and hawthorn. In eastern Ohio, where Deep Woods is located, you can find trees and shrubs such as chestnut oak, sourwood, scrub pine, pitch pine, and hemlocks.

Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany

My assignment that I was to find two species of was club moss. Club mosses are from the family Lycopodiaceae. Club mosses are evergreen plants with many small leaves, and are actually vascular plants! Since mosses are non-vascular plants, club mosses are not actually mosses even though they resemble them, and they reproduce through spores.

Source: https://vnps.org/princewilliamwildflowersociety/botanizing-with-marion/clubmosses-an-ancient-and-interesting-group-of-fern-allies/

Fan clubmoss (Diphasiastrum digitatum)

This is the most common clubmoss of the genus Diphasiastrum. These clubmosses also go by the common name “groundcedar” because of its resemblance to twigs from cedar lying on the ground. They prefer disturbed areas and coniferous forests so that it can grow in large bunches. We spotted this one along with one right beside it.

Source: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/122100-Diphasiastrum-digitatum

Shining clubmoss (Huperzia lucidula)

These clubmosses are also vascular and are perennial evergreens. They grow in a erect stature and have small whorled leaves all around their stems. In the summer, sporangia develop on the axilis of leaves toward the upper part of the stems. They also love moist acidic soil, which is characteristic of the soils of eastern Ohio, where we found these samples in Hocking Hills.

Source: https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/grasses/plants/sh_firmoss.html

Acidic Sandstone Plants

These are the plants that we were able to observe in Deep Woods Preserve in Hocking Hills in eastern Ohio that are unique to this part of Ohio due to its geologically unique characteristics.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

The Eastern Hemlock tree is in the conifer family. Once the tree dries out, the leave tend to fall off of the stems. These trees are usually not used for lumber because they have poor wood quality and the knots in the tree are described as “stone like” because they chip steel blades. A tea was once made from the bark, which is rich in tannins.

Source: The Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs by George A. Petrides

Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)

This tree got its name due to its bark that is very “shaggy” looking. The bark almost looks like it peeling away from the tree, but this is usually only prominently shown in adult form. The one that we seen at Deep Woods was still young and it had not gotten the unique bark yet. Another way to tell that it is a Shagbark Hickory is the 5 leaflets on each leaf. When this tree has its fruits, they are nuts that are egg-shaped.

Source: The Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs by George A. Petrides

Butternut (Juglans cinerea)

The Butternut tree is in the same family as the black walnut tree, Juglandaceae. Both of these trees are very similar but the most distinctive characteristic is the large and present terminal leaflet on the leaves of the Butternut. This can be shown in the picture (it’s the one that is very shaded toward the top center of the picture). The butternut is also known as the White Walnut because it has lighter bark and wood than the black walnut. The fruits from this tree can produce tannins. The bark also contains tannins that early colonists used to use to dye clothes with.

Source: The Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs by George A. Petrides

Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus)

This was a very young Chestnut Oak that we found in Deep Woods Preserve. The leaves have 7-16 pairs of rounded teeth, and are slightly hairy on the undersides. It slightly resembles the Chinquapin Oak due to their similar leaf structure.

Source: The Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs by George A. Petrides

Appalachian Gametophyte (Vittaria appalachiana )

This fern stays in the gametophyte phase of its life cycle. They are able to reproduce with the sporophyte version of this plant. This one was found in southeastern Ohio in Deep Woods Preserve which is located in Hocking Hills, Ohio. It is found in areas of Ohio where it hides out in moist areas where sandstone is prominent. This one was found in crevices of a cave that was cool and moist with little sunlight. The leaves were flat and fleshy and very green.

Marsh, Prairie and Fen

MARSH: We visited the marsh ecosystems along Darby Creek Drive. It was very flat land with slightly moist soils with a wide range of grasses, sedges, and a few woody plants. Since we have not had very much rain within the past couple of months, the characteristics of the marsh were a little different than what you would normally see (it was much dryer than what a marsh would usually be due to this lack of rain). The plants that we seen at this marsh were various species of herbaceous plants, lots of grasses, reeds, and sedge plants. Specific types that we seen included Eastern cottonwood trees, willow trees, American sycamore trees, a Scirpus sedge, cattails, and many more!

Narrowleaf Cattail (Typha angustifolia)

Picture above is a narrowleaf cattail that we observed at the marshes on our field trip. There were many of these present even with the lack of rain that we have been experiencing.

PRAIRIE: In the restored prairie at Battelle Darby Metro Park, we were able to observe many different varieties of grasses, forbs, and sedges that were different from the ones that we observed in the marsh just a few minutes away. Prairies are very rare to see in Ohio because they have been desegregated due to agricultural purposes. Even with the lack of rain that we have had, there were still many wildflowers within this ecosystem. One new forb that we seen was the stiff golden rod. This was one of the most unique goldenrod species that we have been able to observe during our two field trips. Another forb that we observed was the false-white indigo, and they even had pods that we could see. Grasses that we were able to see included Indian grass, switch grass, and many others. We also seen many trees including a black oak and a swamp white oak.

Stiff Goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigidum)

This is the unique stiff goldenrod that we seen in the restored prairies.

CEDAR BOG THAT IS NOT A BOG: Cedar Bog, is actually a fen! A BOG is a type of wetland that accumulates decaying plant matter and water. The only way water ever really escapes or leaves a bog is by evaporation. A metaphor to describe a bog is kinda like a clogged bathtub where all of the dead and decaying plants accumulate and form a layer of peat. On the other hand, a FEN is also a wetland, but it can be more metaphorically explained as a well-working toilet where everything is flushed out. The water that is supplied to a fen is from rain and groundwater that enters the fen through natural springs. Streams run out of the fens and in a way “flushes out” the systems. Cedar Bog may have been misnamed because of its location between two moraines that were created by the glacier that occurred roughly 20,000 years ago. This geographic characteristic makes it to where the water is kept in the “U” shape of the moraines where Cedar Bog is located.

Two Lobelia Species!

My assignment was to locate and document two different species of Lobelia while adventuring around Cedar Bog (that is not a bog).

Ontario lobelia (Lobelia kalmii)


Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)