Cedar Bog Nature Preserve
Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is a fen and swamp forest located in southern Champaign County, Ohio. This is a 450 acre protected area of wetlands woodlands, and meadows, and it is the first nature preserve to be protected with state funds. What makes this place so unique is that 90% of Ohio’s wetlands have disappeared in the last two centuries, making Cedar Bog the only area to be left fundamentally unchanged since the last glaciers retreated 14,000 years ago. As the glaciers retreated, they left with them a limey, clayey, till that make the biodiversity in this area possible. Because of the success of agriculture in Ohio, development, and drainage, this areas contains one of the last sedge meadow wetlands in the state.
Scavenger Hunt-Woody Vines
I was tasked to find two woody vines in the fen. Vines are plants characterized by their “long, trailing, twining, or climbing stems generally over two feet long.” (Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide). Woody vines have woody stems.
Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Virginia creeper can easily be identified by its five palmately compound leaves. Each leaflet is coarsely toothed. This vine uses tendrils to climb up a tree’s truck, which made it easy to find throughout the fen. This vine is part of the grape family and produces a bluish-black berry fruit, though I didn’t see any.
Virginia creeper leaves turn a reddish color in the autumn before they fall. More information about the color change in Virginia creeper plants can be found here: https://carnegiemnh.org/tag/virginia-creeper/
Frost grape, Vitis vulpina
Grape vine can be easily identified by the thick woody aged stems. The leaves of this vine on younger stems are entire, unlobed, and coarsely and sharply toothed. What made this species of grape vine identifiable were its leaves with smooth or nearly smooth undersides as compared to a hairy underside. The Riverbank grape and the Frost grape have similar smooth leaves, but only the Frost grape is unlobed.
When Frost grape leaves are young they can be harvested and used to make stuffed grape leaves! More information about Frost grape edibleness can be found here: https://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/curriculum-collections/young-naturalist-awards/winning-essays/1998-2003/survival-in-the-northeast-wilderness
Special Fen Plants
Coefficient of conservatism (CC): a degree given as value from one through ten depending on their need for high quality natural communities like those that existed in pre-settlement times. A value of 10 means this plant require a high quality area.
Poison sumac, Toxicodendron vernix
Poison sumac is a plant with a relatively high CC of 7. This is plant that can only grow in high qualities areas like Cedar Bog and other high quality wetlands. In these areas it is easily identifiable by its alternately arranged, pinnately compound leaves.
People can be allergic to poison sumac and it considered more allergenic than poison ivy and poison oak. Poison sumac releases an oil called urushiol when bruised/rubbed, and it causes a skin reaction called phytophotodermatitis. More information about poison sumac rash can be found here: https://www.healthline.com/health/outdoor-health/poison-sumac
Round-leaved sundew, Drosera rotundifolia
Round-leaved sundew also has a CC of 7 meaning this plant can only grow in high quality bogs and wetlands. This plant is identifiable by its unique leaves covered in reddish glandular hairs. The white flowers of this plant grow in one-sided racemes and only open on sunny days (unfortunately, it was quite cloudy the day of the trip). A close relative of the round-leaved sundew, the spatulate-leaved sundew (D. intermedia), has an even high CC of 9.
As mentioned by Dr. Kilpps, sundews are a family of insectivorous plants. These plants still acquire energy from photosynthesis, but they acquire nutrients from digesting small insects. The sundew traps an unsuspecting insect in its sticky glandular hairs. More information about sundew insect traps can be found here: https://botany.org/home/resources/carnivorous-plants-insectivorous-plants/drosera-the-sundews.html
Humped bladderwort, Utricularia gibba
Humped bladderwort has a CC of 8. We were not so sure we were going to see these plants, but tiny yellow flowers were visible in the open bog. These plants are identifiable by their tiny yellow flowers, and because they seemed to be in pair slightly further apart, I think my species specification is correct, but I am not entirely sure.
These are also a species of aquatic insectivorous plant. The leaves of this plant bear tiny bladders that are completely submerged, and they are either free floating or loosely rooted. These bladders act as an underwater vacuum for sucking up minute water life. More information about bladderwort leaf bladders can be found here: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/utricularia-gibba/
Shrubby cinquefoil, Potentilla fruticosa
Shrubby cinquefoil has the maximum CC of 10. This is an extremely rare plant in Ohio and we were lucky to see it preserved at Cedar Bog. In the summer and fall this shrub blooms yellow flowers, so we were not able to see any on your spring trip. This plant is identifiable by its leaves with tiny, narrowly oblong leaflets covered on both sides in silky hairs.
This shrub is part of the Rosaceae family. The taxonomic name of this plant was changed to Dasiphora fruticosa with three species in the Dasiphora genus. The other two shrub species of this genus are native only to Asia. More information about shrubby cinquefoil’s native range throughout the temperate northern hemisphere can be found here: https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/potentilla-fruticosa