Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
As you can see the leaves of garlic mustard are triangular, somewhat heart-shaped simple, alternate, and toothed in arrangement. This plant is native to Europe and has become very invasive in the United States and Canada. Not only does this member of the Mustard family have the smell of onion or garlic, but it is also edible. A fun fact is that garlic mustard was once used as both a disinfectant and diuretic!
Sweet Cicely’s (Osmorhiza longistylis)
This member of the Carrot/ Parsley family has alternately arranged, pinnately compound leaves. The leaflets are ovate and have crenations on the margins. This plant also has an aroma, that of anise, or, black licorice. Its genus name literally means “fragrance” and “root,” which is fitting since the scent is rather strong. Apparently, these leaves taste so good some people eat them raw and top them with powdered sugar!
Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin)
This shrub is oppositely arranged and the leaves are ovate, but serrated. As a member fo the Laurel family, spicebush is a close relative to sassafras. This plant is very spicy smelling and the leaves/ berries are edible. A neat fact about the spicebush is that many people utilize it in their gardens to attract butterflies. Butterflies will lay eggs on these plants and also, feed on them.
Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany
Multiflora Rose (Rosa Multiflora)
This member of the Roseaceae family is native to East Asia, but is an invasive species across North America. The leaves are alternately arranges, compound and the leaflets are toothed. This particular species has been known to be planted in the barriers along highways to prevent glare and act as a crash barrier (http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/Verrill_Wolf/pages/multiflora_rose.html). A great way to prevent and control this highly invasive plant is to continue cutting or mowing it repeatedly (3-6 times per growing season) for 2-4 years (https://www.invasive.org/alien/pubs/midatlantic/romu.htm).
Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium Vimineum)
This asymmetric looking plant that glistens in the sunlight is also native to Asia, hence the name “Japanese Stiltgrass.” The leaves are tapered at both ends and they typically get two to four inches tall (https://www.agriculture.nh.gov/publications-forms/documents/japanese-stiltgrass.pdf). This plant has a really bad sprawling tendency that extends into patches that displace the native species in the area. This grass is really easy to pull when it matures and gets pretty large (https://www.caryinstitute.org/trails-campus/species-profile/japanese-stiltgrass).
Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)
This perennial herb is given the name “Creeping Charlie” because it has slender creeping stems that give rise to small, erect stems. The leaves are opposite and nearly round to kidney-shaped. They are also teethed at the margins. When crushed, the leaves have a minty smell. There are typically clusters of three flowers that are blue or violet in color (https://www.eddmaps.org/ipane/ipanespecies/herbs/Glechoma_hederacea.htm). This plant is resistant to chemical herbicides, however, if it is only in a small area, the best way to get rid of it is to just keep pulling it up and disposing of it as necessary.
“Linking Geology and Botany… a new approach” by Jane L. Forsyth
Ohio’s geology can be divided into two neat parts: underlying limestone and sandstone. Limestone is in the western part of the state which happens to be flatter and used to be glaciated, while sandstone is in the eastern part of Ohio which has more hills. Limestone is not very resistant in humid climates, while sandstone is very resistant. The original sequence of sedimentary rock strata was, from bottom to top, a thick layer of limestone, shales, and sandstones which formed an arch before erosion started. The crest of the arch went from north to south through the western part of the state. If the crest is in the western part of Ohio, it only makes sense that the low-lying toe be in the eat, which is, in fact, how it was when it formed 200 million years ago. An important river system called the Teays River used to occupy Ohio for a long time. The system of streams eroded the land throughout the entire length of time starting 200 million years ago and their activities were curtailed by the advance of the Ice Age glaciers less than a million years ago. Glaciers of the Pleistocene era- a few hundred thousand years ago- were slowed by the steep-sided sandstone hills of eastern Ohio. Glacial till is a mixture of sand, silt, clay, and boulders that is accumulated by melting ice and the sand/gravel deposited by the meltwater. Eastern Ohio’s till is lower in lime and clay, but Western’s is rich in it. A single hill is made of sand and gravel deposits. Because the west is rich in lime and clay, it provides a relatively impermeable soil. In the eastern part of the state, the bedrock is very permeable. The eastern Ohio soil is acidic, so the moisture is always cool and available. Where the sandstone is mantled by till, it is less acidic, more moist and nutrient rich. Plants that are generally distributed to limestone are: Redbud, Hackberry, Blue Ash, Sedge, and Red-cedar. While plants that are generally limited to clay-rich and high-lime substrates are: Sugar Maple, Beech, Red Oak, White Oak, and White Ash. Some examples of species that belong to the sandstone hills of eastern Ohio are: Hemlock, Sourwood, Pink Ladies’ Slipper, and Huckleberry-Blueberry. The distribution of the Sweet Buckeye and Hemlock vary in that the Sweet Buckeye does not appear north of the glacial line that runs across Ohio. Hemlock, however, does show up a little above the glacial line, but not in the west. It remains in the east. An interesting species that is located only along the Teays River System is rhodendron.
Batelle Darby Plants vs. Hocking Hills Plants
Batelle Darby: eastern Ohio calcareous site
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
This tree has alternately arranged leaves that are entire and serrated. They are ovately shaped. An interesting fact about this tree is that the roots are so strong they can actually uplift sidewalks (http://www.forestry.ok.gov/Websites/forestry/Images/trees,hackberry.pdf). That is, if they are close to sidewalks…
Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
This tree also has alternately arranged leaves that are simple, BUT unlike the Hackberry, the Redbud’s leaves are entire, not serrated. Redbuds really like chalky areas, so it makes sense that we found it in such a calcareous destination!!
Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata)
The Blue Ash has oppositely arranged leaves that are pinnately compound. Each leaf typically contains about 7-11 leaflets. The leaves are serrated. A cool fact about the Blue Ash is that it gets its name from the inside bark. When the inside bark is exposed to air or crushed and mixed with water, it lets off a bluish hue (http://www.cas.miamioh.edu/~meicenrd/BOT155/SpeciesList/SecondExam2011/Fraxinus_quadrangulata.pdf).
The leaves of sedges are neat because they are usually flat, this sedge however had a triangular shape to it. They are one-seeded, which is good to know because some birds like to feed on those seeds (https://aquaplant.tamu.edu/plant-identification/alphabetical-index/sedges/).
Hocking Hills: acid sandstone region
Pink Ladies’ Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)
The second part of this plant’s name, “acaule” is actually Latin for stemless which in this case is referring to the plant’s leafless, flowering stem (https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/cypripedium_acaule.shtml). It only has two basal, opposite leaves, clearly pictured above. This pretty, pink flower was such a ray of sunshine and pop of color to our hike!
Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
The Sourwood has alternately arranged, simple and entire leaves. A cool thing about Sourwood is that there are typically no pests that interfere with its well-being too much (http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/oxyarba.pdf).
Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana)
The Chestnut Oak has alternately arranged, simple, yet undulate leaves. They have a sort of oblong shape to them. This tree can survive where other trees cannot: dry, barren soils (http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/chestnutoak).
Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
The Mountain Laurel has alternately arranged leaves that are simple and entire. They have an elliptical shape as shown above. The flowers show up in clusters and are very showy. They can be white to rose in color and have purple-ish markings on them. These plants can often tolerate lots of shade (http://www.hort.uconn.edu/plants/detail.php?pid=236).
The Appalachian Gametophyte
The Appalachian Gametophyte was a treat we got to see on our trip to Hocking County. It is a small fern that likes damp, cool, shaded areas like the cave we saw it in! It was located on sandstone on the inner, bottom part of the cave. It was dark and cooler in there than the rest of the environment. If you are not looking closely, you may think this plant is a liverwort because they are similar in resemblance.
Cedar Bog (That Isn’t a Bog)
Cedar Bog is called a bog, however, it is not a bog. A bog receives water through rain and then, leaves through the method of evaporation. Decaying plants stain the water brown and make it acidic. In reality, Cedar Bog is a fen. “What is a fen?,” one might ask. Well, it is where water enters as rain or through a spring, then leaves through small streams. There is dissolved limestone in the groundwater which makes it alkaline and clear. These are perfect conditions for sedges– which just so happens to be my topic.
Sedges of Cedar Bog
Cottongrass (Eriophorum viridicarinatum)
This common wetland plant can grow in highly acidic to moderately alkaline places. There leaves can be anywhere from six to twenty-four inches. Flowers are at the terminal ends of stalks and appear as fluffy balls of cotton. The seeds of Cottongrass are very long and narrow. These plants prefer full sun with plenty of water because the soil needs to be continuously wet. This was used to dress wounds during World War I and has been used for paper and candle wicks in Germany (https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/discover-wild-plants-nature/plant-fungi-species/cotton-grass-common).
Water Chestnut (Spikerush) (Eleocharis dulcis)
This plant is native to Asia, Australia, and Africa. The Water Chestnut, despite its name, is not a nut at all. However, it is an aquatic vegetable that grows in marshes and wetlands. The leaves are stem-like and tubular that grow pretty high. The corms of this plant are edible and are actually used quite often in cooking. These tasty treats are also a great source for nutritional value. They contain: copper, B6, carbohydrate, B2, potassium, B1, B5 (https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/water-chestnut/).
Matau Sedge (Carex uncinata)
This sedge has many other common names including: Bastard Grass, Hook Sedge, Kamu, Matau-a-Maui. It has a yellow- green to dark green color. There are typically five to ten leaves per culm. Ducks, turkeys, and sandpipers eat the seeds of this plant (http://hoffmannursery.com/carex). Sedges, in general, can be more difficult to grow than grasses because they are pickier about the soil moisture, salt concentration, and temperature fluctuations. Small flowers do grow on this sedge. In fact, sometimes they are so small they look like little spikelets.