About the Park
The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park is a great home to several plant species just minutes away from The Ohio State University main campus. It is described as a “long-term, large scale aquatic research facility”, and a product of the School of Environment and Natural Resources’ aquatics program at OSU. It is 52-acre research site located adjacent to the Olentangy River, and is made up of two experimental wetland basins, an oxbow wetland, bottomland hardwood forest, and a mesocosm compound! It also has a bike trail nearby that you can find several people riding through throughout the day. This map is a great representation of the several factors that make up this great park.
You can also see that through the experimental wetlands seen above, there are several boardwalks people can walk on to get a great, close-up view of the area. There are currently several projects underway, with more detail at https://u.osu.edu/orwrpramsar/current-research/. In addition to their wonderful plant species, they are also well-known for their diversity in birds.
Directions: To visit the Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, the address is 352 West Dodrige Street, Columbus, Ohio 43202. The coordinates are 40.0199° N, 83.0179° W. Below is a google map, pinpointing the location of the park:
Trees, Shrubs, and Plant Families
English Elm, Ulmus procera
American Sycamore, Platens occidentalis
This tree is native in 36 states. There is a famous story in Southern Ohio of a group of horsemen who found shelter during a severe storm in the hollow base of an old sycamore, in which they were also able to shelter their horses. this is because the tree is so large with several branches offering great shade, as well. The leaves are alternate and simple. It is monoecious, with flowers appearing in May. The fruits look like a ball composed of smaller, closely packed fruits that you may be able to see in September or October. It is especially valued for its use in the timber furniture industry, as it is strong and sturdy. It contributes to the environment as birds such as the purple finch, goldfinch, chickadees and dark-eyed junco eat the seeds.
Common Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis
This plant belongs to the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae) and it is a loose shrub with a broad, white pith. These opposite, pinnately-compound leaves can go up to 12 inches long. The flowers are white, and are in broad, flat, conspicuous clusters that can grow up to 10 inches or more wide. They also produce purplish fruit that are berrylike and edible! The term “Sambucus” has Greek origins, and refers to the Greek sambas, an instrument used in ancient times. This plant’s soft pith can be easily removed from twigs and it was used to make flutes and whistles. It benefits insects because it provides nesting materials/structure for native bees. It also attracts birds and provides a nectar source.
Dull-Leaf Indigobush, Amorpha fruticosa
This plant is a part of the Pea family, Fabaeceae. It is a 6-10 foot loose shrub, pinnately compound with opposite arrangement. In flowering season, its flowers are small, purple to dark blue with yellow stamens. The flowers form clusters, and can be seen from April to June. The fruits tend to be on the smaller side, up to 3/8th inches long! It often forms thickets on riverbanks, and can either be weedy or invasive. The genus is from the Greek word “amorphos” (formless or deformed). This is referring to the flower which, interestingly enough, has only one petal (the banner). The flower itself is bisexual, and can be orange, blue or purple. It benefits nectar-bees, nectar-butterflies, nectar-insects and attracts butterflies.
(Confirmed with teacher) Yew, in the family Taxaceae, was one of the newest families we learned this past week. Although we were not required to know specific types of Yew, this family does not produce conifers. They are borne singly and their seeds look very distinct, like a red berry covering. It is a gymnosperm plant, with their leaves flat and attached singly.
Crown Vetch, Securigera varia (Family: Fabaceae)
Poison Ivy, Toxicodendron radicans
Identifying poison ivy may come in handy when going out on hikes on trails or parks. They are quite common, and just because you see three leaves does not necessarily mean that the plant is poisonous! Look for pointed leaves in vines or shrubs. Poison ivy is a red tone in the spring, green in the summer (AS shown above), and yellow/orange in the autumn. You may see clusters of green/white berries during spring and summer, along with green/yellow flowers. Oftentimes, there will be a larger leaf on the end, and two smaller leaves shooting off the sides.
Flowers and Fruits
Downy Lobelia, Lobelia puberula