Glen Echo Park is a ravine park in the Clintonville area of Columbus (see map below). The park is located in a ravine north of Hudson street west of I-71 and is below residential areas on all sides, with a bridge crossing over a narrow part of the ravine on the west side of the park. Glen Echo Park is a restored area that has been naturalized in an attempt to reduce urban effects on the park and preserve urban greenspace. This naturalization attempt has included planting Ohio native plants, and adding metal wiring added to stabilize rocky stream banks.

More details of the restoration project will be added as I return to the park over the course of the semester and take more time to read the posted signs.

Below is a map of Glen Echo park. Thanks, google maps. This botanical survey focuses on the areas east of Indianola Ave.

The park has three fairly distinct natural areas:

  1. Stream/Riparian running east to west through the park

Glen Echo Creek

2.Ravine walking area

Cultivated Cornus sp. on the north side of the walking path through the ravine park

3. Deciduous wooded area on the northern bank of the ravine

Deciduous hiking trails dominated by Quercus and Acer sp.

Trees of Glen Echo Park:

The majority of the wooded area on the northern ravine bank is dominated by oak (Quercus sp.) and maple (Acer sp.) trees. The park is notably absent of conifers, as my first exploration did not find any. Below are some notable trees I identified:

Tulip Tree/Yellow-poplar

Liriodendron tulipifera

This tree is identifiable by its leaves, which are alternately arranged, simple 4-pointed leaves with a notched tip. According to Petrides, the flowers are large and “tulip-like,” hence the name. This tree flowers May-June so I did not get to see the faux tulips. According to USDA, its seeds are winged and wind-dispersed, and dispersals across “300,000 – 600,000 acres is not uncommon.” Wow!

The tulip tree is related to magnolias (not very closely related to poplars) and its wood is used for furniture, boats, shingles, toys, etc. (Petrides.) The tree pictured above is located south of the walking trail in the ravine area of Glen Echo Park.

Cherry Plum

Prunus cerasifera

This small tree made me say “Oooo!” It was growing in the understory with little sunlight on the northern ravine bank of the park. As this is not an Ohio native and does not appear in the field guide, I had to use the internet (sorry) to identify this tree.

This tree (nicknamed “thundercloud“) is part of the rose family and is native to Southeastern Europe. Cherry Plum was naturalized to different parts of the United States, likely as an ornamental, and appears in Glen Echo probably as a garden escapee. The fruit of the Cherry Plum (named after two of my favorite fruits) is a drupe that is ripe in late summer. This California taxon report lists the seeds as majorly toxic.

If you’re a cherry plum tree reading this: you’re very pretty but you do not belong here. With the greatest respect, please leave. I’m sure you’ll be happier in Eurasia.

Shrubs/Woody Vines of Glen Echo Park:


Amur Honeysuckle

Lonicera maackii

Tremble in fear! Amur Honeysuckle is a prolific invasive shrub in Ohio and the Great Lakes Region. The Ohio Invasive Plants Counsel has a lot to say about invasive honeysuckle species in Ohio. Amur honeysuckle is native to Asia and was introduced to the USA in the 1800’s as an ornamental plant (I guess it does look nice).

This species is identified by the sharply pointed leaves, woody stems, and bright red berries.

Ecologically, this plant is a supervillain. Amur honeysuckle has an extended phenology that allows it to outcompete local plants for space and sunlight early in the spring, and produces fruits late into the fall. The plant’s allelopathic chemicals excreted from the roots kill other plants and give way to monocultures of invasive honeysuckle over time. These chemicals can also harm native amphibian populations. Seeds are dispersed by birds who are attracted to the bright red berries. L. maackii‘s extended phenology allows for fruit and seed dispersal into the fall when other surrounding plants have stopped producing fruit.

This plant is an ecological disaster, and has many other negative ecological effects than are listed here. The Society for Ecological Restoration at OSU has done removal work on honeysuckle at the Fawcett restoration site, by clipping honeysuckle stems and spraying them with herbicide.

Below is a picture of a L. maackii patch in Glen Echo Park.


Common Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca

Milkweed is named for the milky latex substance that oozes when stems and leaves are broken. Milkweed is the exclusive host of monarch butterfly eggs, and “over 450 species of insects” feed on different parts of the milkweed plant!

The fruits of the milkweed plant are follicles, which are unicarpellate and split along one side. The seeds are wind dispersed, and the plant also reproduces by rhizomes.

Glen Echo In Bloom:

White Snakeroot

Ageratina altissima

White snakeroot, that’s what they called me in high school. Just kidding, the name “snakeroot” is from the old misconception that the plant could treat snakebites.

The toxin tremetol is present in the plant’s leaves and roots, which can be toxic to livestock or animals that eat the plant. Some moths also eat the plant and absorb the toxins as a defense against predation. Snakeroot is also a favorite plant of pollinators.

Yellow Jewelweed / Orange Jewelweed

 Impatiens pallida / Impatiens capensis

These long-stalked flowers are called touch-me-nots! On the right is a photograph of me not following this instruction, always a rebel. This name comes from their exploding seed pods! Flower Power Daily says their seed pods can shoot seeds up to 10 feet! What a way to disperse your seeds. The seeds are “Impatien” to disperse.

The flowers on these plants have bilateral symmetry and flowers well in partial to full shade.


Poison Ivy

Toxicodendron radicans

Like many cocky botanists, I consider myself immune to the toxic effects of poison ivy on the skin. However, Dr. Klips reminded the class that individuals can suddenly become more sensitive to such toxins. To keep my wax wings from melting, I did not touch these specimens.

Poison Ivy is identifiable by its “leaflets of three,” white drupes, and aerial roots, which make the vine look like a “hairy rope” when vining over trees. Glen Echo Park has several patches of poison ivy monocultures. According to the USDA, poison ivy is predicted to benefit from increasing average annual temperatures. Save all of our skin by cutting your emissions and writing to your congressman. 


Species list (not comprehensive):

Species Name Common Name CofC
Acer negundo Box Elder Maple 3
Acer rubrum Red Maple 2
Acer saccharum Sugar Maple 5
Albizia julibrissin Persian Silk Tree 0
Ambrosia trifida Giant Ragweed 0
Apocynum cannabinum Prairie Dogbane 1
Arctium minus Common Burdock 0
Asarum canadense Wild Ginger 6
Asclepias syriaca Common Milkweed 1
Bidens frondosa Devils Beggarticks 2
Catalpa speciosa Northern Catalpa 0
Celastrus orbiculatus Oriental Bittersweet 0
Celastrus scandens American Bittersweet 2
Celtis occidentalis Hackberry 4
Cephalanthus occidentalis Common Buttonbush 6
Cichorium intybus Common Chicory 0
Cirsium arvense Canada Thistle 0
Clematis virginiana Virgins Bower 3
Cornus amomum Silky Dogwood 2
Cornus florida Flowering Dogwood 5
Cotoneaster horizontalis Rockspray Cotoneaster no data
Crataegus pruinosa  Frosted Hawthorn 2
Cryptotaenia canadensis Canadian Honewort 3
Cynanchum laeve Honeyvine 1
Desmodium paniculatum Panickledleaf Ticktrefoil 3
Euonymus alatus Burning Bush 0
Euonymus fortunei Wintercreeper 0
Eupatorium rugosum White Snakeroot 3
Fagus sylvatica European Beech no data
Fraxinus americana White Ash 6
Fraxinus pennsylvanica Green Ash 3
Hackelia virginiana  Virginia Stickseed 2
Hedera helix English Ivy 0
Hibiscus syriacus Rose of Sharon 0
Impatiens capensis Orange Jewelweed 2
Impatiens pallida Yellow Jewelweed 3
Juniperus virginiana Eastern Red Cedar 3
Ligustrum vulgare Common Privet 0
Liriodendron tulipifera Tulip Tree 6
Lonicera maackii Amur Honeysuckle 0
Menispermum canadense Common Moonseed 5
Morus alba White Mulberry 0
Nyssa sylvatica Black Gum 7
Ostrya virginiana American Hophornbeam 5

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia Creeper 2
Persicaria virginiana Virginia Knotweed 3
Philadelphus coronarius English Dogwood 0
Physocarpus opulifolius Ninebark 4
Phytolacca americana American Pokeweed 1
Pilea pumila Clearweed 2
Pistacia chinensis Chinese Pistache 0
Platanus occidentalis American Sycamore 7
Polygonum pensylvanicum Pennsylvania Knotweed 0
Prunella vulgaris Common Selfheal 0
Prunus cerasifera Cherry Plum no data
Prunus serotina Black Cherry 3
Pyrus calleryana Callery Pear 0
Quercus bicolor Swamp White Oak 7
Rosa chinensis minima Dwarf Rose non-native cultivar
Rosa multiflora Multiflora Rose 0
Rubus occidentalis Black Raspberry 1
Rudbeckia triloba Brown-Eyed Susan 5
Salix nigra Black Willow 2
Sanicula gregaria Clustered Blacksnakeroot 3
Sedum ternatum Woodland Stonecrop 5
Silphium perfoliatum Cup Plant 6
Solidago caesia Bluestem Goldenrod 5
Solidago nemoralis Gray Goldenrod 2
Taxodium distichum Bald Cypress 0
Taxus canadensis Canada Yew 8
Tilia americana American Linden 6
Tortula ruralis Star Moss NA
Toxicodendron radicans Poison Ivy 1
Ulmus americana American Elm 2
Verbesina alternifolia Wingstem 5
Viburnum dentatum Arrowwood Viburnum 2
Viburnum opulus Guelder Rose Viburnum 0
Vinca minor Common Periwinkle 0
Vitis aestivalis Summer Grape 4

The Coefficient of Conservatism (CofC), detailed in the EPA’s Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) in 2004 and 2014, refers to the degree of “conservatism” that a species exhibits as compared to other species in the region. Plants with a high CofC have a low range of ecological habitats that they can occupy, and plants with a low CofC have a broad range of ecological habitats that they can occupy. The Coefficient of Conservatism of invasive species is listed as 0.

The FQAI Score of this site is 26, computed by the following equation from the EPA Andreas et al. (2004):

I = SUM (CCi)/SQRT(Nnative)

26 is a fairly “average” value out of the possible FQAI Score values, and is higher than I expected for the following reason:

Glenn Echo Park is in the middle of an urban neighborhood and is a highly disturbed site that was restored to a park in the last 30 years. Since it’s surrounded by residential areas and roads, Glenn Echo flora is exposed to a multitude of stressors. For example, salinity stress on the banks of the ravine is likely substantial in the wintertime due to road salt in surrounding neighborhoods.

Since the park is so disturbed, much of the flora in the park are weedy or invasive plants that are able to easily colonize disturbed sites. Some of these plants are resilient to environmental stress and some have high phenotypic plasticity, meaning that individuals can change their traits within their lifetime to acclimate to environmental stressors and maximize fitness. 

Because of this phenotypic plasticity, these plants are able to colonize a wide breadth of ecological habitats, which means they have a low CofC according to the FQAI from the EPA. Therefore, I expected the FQAI Score for this site to be lower.

Four lowest CofC plants:

The number in the parentheses following each plant’s common name is its Coefficient of Conservatism

Black Raspberry (1)

Rubus occidentalis

In my opinion, Rubus occidentalis is the tastiest member of the Rosacacae, its fruits the well-know aggregate of drupelets that are great in pies, jams, and my mouth. This plant is native to the Eastern part of the United States, and feeds over 150 species of mammals according to Lake Forest College.

Blackberry or Black Raspberry? The blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) has square stems, and black raspberry stems are round. Also, the black raspberry leaves the receptacle behind after fruits are dropped. The receptacle remains inside the blackberry.

American Pokeweed (1)

Phytolacca americana

Becky the YouTube Witch claims that when pokeweed steps appear pink, the plant has started producing the phytolaccagenin chemical and is no longer safe to eat without boiling it three times and frying up the well-boiled remains.

Apparently, pokeweed can be used as a skin salve and lymphatic cleanser. The witch claims that pokeweed can also be used to remove curses when bathed in, and ward off arthritis when worn inside the shoe.

Below is Becky’s video. While I appreciate learning some of the cultural and folk uses of pokeweed, I personally will not try to use it to remove any curses anytime soon.

Prairie Dogbane (1)

Apocynum cannabinum

Prairie Dogbane, also known as Indianhemp, is found in 48 states. Its leaves and roots excrete a milky substance that is fatal to dogs, as the name suggests. Don’t let your dog eat it!

The USDA states that this species colonizes “waste spaces” and is an early succession colonizer of disturbed sites. This makes me feel like a good little scientist, as my above observations about the nature of plants in the highly disturbed Glenn Echo Park is confirmed by this agency. For this reason, Prairie Dogbane is a low CofC species, and why it is found in across the contiguous United States.

Giant Ragweed (0)

Ambrosia trifida

Giant Ragweed is another species that colonizes a broad range of habitats and is found across the United States. It is currently listed as a noxious weed in Ohio, though some invasion ecologists are antsy to classify it as invasive.

Here’s a VERY interesting and EXTREMELY engaging paper from Ohio State’s Dr. Steve Hovick that found Giant Ragweed populations from the Western United States were more fecund than populations from the East in a common garden experiment, allocating more biomass to reproduction. This manuscript also examines local adaptation of Ambrosia trifida populations and such literature can be used as this species evolves in agricultural settings and becomes “hotspot of evolutionary potential.”

The bottom picture (above) is a large patch of giant ragweed at the base of a hill in the Park. Since this species can tolerate whatever chemicals/pesticides/road salt flow down the hill as rainwater or snowmelt, this is a reasonable place to find this species.

Four highest CofC species:

Canada Yew (8)

Taxus canadensis

I found this small Canada Yew (see English Ivy for size reference) in a very shaded part of the Glenn Echo Park woods. I was unsurprised to learn that lists the Canada yew as a very shade-tolerant species. In general, Canada yew is INtolerant to disturbance and reproduces asexually. I am concerned for the health of this individual, as it is surrounded by an aggressive, allelopathic, invasive English Ivy.

In general, this species prefers cool, shady, old-growth forests, which are becoming increasingly scarce in North America. This is a reason for its extremely high CofC value in Ohio. This individual was one of very few conifers found in Glenn Echo, and was also found very close to a residential area. Its presence here might be the result of seed dispersal by bird droppings feeding on the seeds of a cultivated ornamental in a residential area.

Swamp White Oak (7)

Quercus bicolor

This oak is identifiable by its alternate, simple leaves with rounded tips of lobes. This species grows well in riparian habitats bordering streams and swamps. Unsurprisingly, this individual (and many others of the same species) were found within 100 meters of Glenn Echo Creek, mostly uphill of the creek. This species grows best in “hydromorphic soils,” according to the USDA, which are mineral soils that are poorly drained, with good “organic accumulation,” but not well in areas that remain flooded.

I was very pleased to learn that ducks especially enjoy swamp white oak acorns.

American Sycamore (7)

Platanus occidentalis

American sycamores are fairly common in Columbus and around Ohio State’s campus, so I was surprised to find that the Coefficient of Conservatism was so high. This serves as a good reminder that high CofC does not necessarily mean “rare” plants, but plants that require specific environmental qualities to grow.

As you know, American sycamores are identified by being “frickin’ gigantic,” colloquially, as well as having peeling light-brown bark revealing a lighter underbark. This species prefers “deep, rich, moist, well-drained soils” and will grow best in sunlight to light shade.

Common Buttonbush (6)

Cephalanthus occidentalis

A fun fact about this individual is that it’s growing right in the middle of a lil’ ol’ pond.

If you have been walking around thinking “what’s that plant with those spherical fruits that look like aggregates of something or other?” like I have, wonder no longer. It’s Common Buttonbush.

This plant (clearly) grows best in moist areas and bogs, swamps, drains, and ditches and other areas that are periodically flooded, so says the USDA. This plant is good for pollinators but very bad for you, since eating the bark can induce vomiting, convulsions, and paralysis. If you’re a person who compulsively eats tree bark, stay away from this tree.

Four invasive species (Boo, Hiss):


Euonymus fortunei

This species is native to Asia and invasive in Ohio. It is a vining species that pushes out native individuals by forming dense monocultures on the forest floor (top). Like English Ivy, it looks very pretty in residential areas but causes negative effects to ecosystems. Do NOT plant this species. If your neighbors have it planted, rip it up. Burn their house down. Don’t do that, sorry.

This species reproduces vegitatively by spreading out on forest floors, or by seeds in flowing water. It is unsurprising that this plant is found in riparian areas in Glenn Echo Park. says best management practices are, as with many species, hand pulling and application of herbicide.

Multiflora Rose

Rosa multiflora

We have discussed this plant in class many times, and encountered it on both of our class field trips, as it tolerates a wide range of habitats. This invasive was introduced to the United States in 1866 as an ornamental (essential, following a devastating civil war) and was used for erosion control in the following century.

Management includes cutting of individuals, as well as herbicide application to reduce the seed bank.

English Ivy

Hedera helix

This aggressive invasive vining species is growing in the small flowerbeds outside my house, since Northsteppe realty doesn’t care about the environment. The residential areas surrounding Glenn Echo Park also have English Ivy, so it is likely that the Ivy growing in the Park is an ornamental escape.

This vine overcomes trees and blocks sunlight and photosynthesis. Ingesting the leaves can cause a lot of bad things to happen to you, including “gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, hyperactivity, breathing difficulty, coma, fever, polydipsia, dilated pupils, muscular weakness, and lack of coordination.” That’s a lot of bad things.

The fruiting part of this plant is a smallish shrub that smells like feces. This pungent smell attracts pollinators!

Callery Pear

Pyrus calleryana

Wow! An invasive Asian tree species that smells awful, outcompetes native species, falls down under heavy snowfall! Cities surely wouldn’t plant large numbers of these as ornamentals, right? Wrong!

There are entire Columbus neighborhoods in Grandview and Hilliard lined with cultivated Callery pears, so this individual’s presence in Glenn Echo Park is not surprising.

This species disperses seeds via birds eating berries, and is best managed by cutting trees down and spraying stumps with herbicide.

Substrate-Associated Species:

The following individuals found in Glenn Echo Park are all listed as Limestone-loving plants by Jane Forsyth’s Geobotany article. Columbus is found in the glaciated area of Ohio Northwest of the glacial boundary which is characterized by limestone substrate, so this makes sense.

Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis

Yes, this is one of the worst pictures I could have taken of this species! Thank you for asking.

The Judas tree, so-named for the myth of the tree’s flowers turning from white to pink as a result of Judas’ guilt following betraying Jesus and hanging himself. According to the USDA, Cercis canadensis loves alkaline soils. Coincidentally, tomorrow night (at the time of writing this) I am seeing a local band called “Snitch Bastard Judas” at Big Room Bar. This is an actually true fact, unlike some of the fun facts on my blog which are flagrant lies.

Feel free to head on over to my “Trees” tab to learn more about the Eastern Redbud.


Celtis occidentalis

Hackberry is identifiable by the alternate, simple leaves, which are very rough to the touch on the underside of the leaf. The above picture is a great tutorial on how to grab a leaf. Hackberry grows best in moist soils along bodies of water.

Hackberry fruits are often ripe in September or October. Below is a recipe for Hackberry Jam, which Meredith Thomas thought was helpful in 2010:

American Hophornbeam

Ostrya virginiana

That’s not American Hophornbeam, that’s American Elm! Oh, ye of little faith.

They are very similar looking! However, American Hophornbeam has more finely serrated leaves than American Elm, and a more steeply-tapered tip of the leaf. When the American Hophornbeam’s “hops” fruits are displayed, the identification is easy!

According to the USDA, this species is only grazed by white-tailed deer when there is nothing better around. Interestingly, the wood is used for golf club handles.

Frosted Hawthorn

Crataegus pruinosa

I am not entirely sure on this species identification, but landed on Frosted Hawthorn based on leaf shape when compared to other Hawthorn species. In general, Hawthorns are identifiable by their deeply lobed leaves, tart red fruits, and its 5-lobed white flowers when flowering.

Hawthorn twigs are thorny, and seeds are dispersed.