This post is all about the some of the incredible plants that I found at the Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park! This site is found just off of Ohio State’s Columbus Campus on Ackerman Run. The coordinates for this site are -83.018931, 40.020116. This site is an urban, restored, research wetlands park. It covers 52 acres along the Olentangy River. This incredible site has two different experimental wetlands, which allow unique plants to grow in the area which provides education for many students at Ohio State. You can read more about the Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park here: https://oardc.osu.edu/facility/wilma-h-schiermeier-olentangy-river-wetland-research-park
Below are some of the interesting plants that I saw when I visited the site!
Callery Pear (Pyrux calleryana)
Callery Pear is an ornamnetal plant that was brought over from Europe. This plant is sold for landscaping purposes and are self-sterile when sold. When planted close to other callery pears, the plant can cross-pollinate and produce fruits. These fruits are often eaten by birds who can spread their seeds. This tree is a tolerant tree, therefore it can grow well in a variety of landscapes.
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
Pawpaw trees are a unique tree in the area as the can sprout through their roots, so many trees can share the same root system similarly to the Quaking Aspen. This tree can produce a banana-like fruit, however, this is only possible if a tree from a different root system is in the area to cross-pollinate the tree. If there are only clones of the same pawpaws in the area, no fruits will be produced.
Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
This plant provides food and habitat for many animals in the area. The berries that grow on this wood vine provide food for birds. Animals, such as deer, mice, skunks, and squirrels, will eat the leaves. This plant has thick foliage which provide protection for small animals and birds can build their nests in on their in the foliage as well.
Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)
Common Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Chicory was originally from the Mediterranean and was brought to North America in the 1700’s. This plant was harvested for salads until the 1950’s when America started to import chicory instead of harvesting it. This plant spread through out the west and north after it stopped being harvested. It usually grows in lime-rich soils.
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron redicans) is a plant that everyone here in Ohio should be able to identify because it causes the itchy rash that many of us have unfortunately experienced. This plant is a vine that grows up trees with “hairy” roots that attach to the side of trees. It also has 3 pinnately compound leaves that help to identify it.
For field experience on this past week, everyone was asked to bring in 2 different mosses to ID. Identifying mosses is so hard and really frustrating! Honestly, even collecting 2 different mosses was something I struggled with because it was so hard to see the differences with them being so small. Here are the two mosses that I found:
I think I got this one correct, however, I forgot to take pictures of it under the microscope.
I think this is spike moss, but like I said earlier, it is hard to ID mosses!
Lea’s Shadow Lichen (Pheaophyscia leana)
Powdered Ruffle Lichen (Parmotrema hypotropum)
High CC Plants
Missouri Ironweed (Vernonia missurica)
Missouri Ironweed stem has fine hairs on it with alternating leaves. The composite flowers usually have 30-60 flowers on them and the bracts on the base of the composite flowers look like fish scales. The flower blooms during the late summer or early fall. Due to the long flowers, this plant attracts long-tongued bee species and butterflies. However, this plant is usually last to be eaten by mammals because of the bitter taste of the leaves.
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Sycamores have a leaf margin as lobed with large teeth and an alternate leaf arrangement. The complexity is simple and the leaves are also very smooth with little to no hair on them. The tree also has brown bark that flakes off to reveal a lighter colored bark. This is a distinctive feature of the sycamore tree, allowing budding botanists to easily identify it. The tree is believed to have gotten its name “sycamore” from the peeling bark, because people thought the tree always looked sick.
Low CC Plants
Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
Canada goldenrod usually has a smooth stem main stem near the base, but it is downy above the base. The leaves are narrow, uniform in length, and sharply toothed. The flowers are typically in clusters and curved to one side. The plant is usually 1-5 feet tall. The name likely came from the Latin word “Solidus” which means whole and refers to the healing properties of the genus.
Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)
Common blue violet has basal leaves only that are toothed and lobed. The flowers are the plant are typically smooth and is typically found in moist wood locations. The flowers and leaves of common blue violet are edible and often used in salads.
List of Plants with CC Value
- Callery Pear -*
- Slippery Elm-3
- Pawpaw- 6
- Black Willow-2
- Eastern Red Cedar-3
- Flowering dogwood-5
- Hackberry -4
- Black oak-7
- Amur Honeysuckle- *
- Poison ivy -1
- Virginia creeper-2
- Riverbank grape-3
- Black Raspberry- 1
- Canada Goldenrod-1
- Common Boneset- 3
- Eastern line aster- 3
- Dotted Smartweed -6
- White Snakeroot- 3
- Pennsylvania smartweed- 0
- Leafy elephant foot -4
- Tick clover-3
- Black-eyed Susan-1
- Purple Mistflower-3
- Ebony spleenwort -3
- Common blue violet-1
- Woodland lettuce -3
- Lady’s thumb-*
- Milkweed -1
- Big bluestem -5
- Chicory – *
- White clover-*
- Ragweed -0
- Creeping woodsorrel-*
- Common self-heal-0
- Horsetail -2
- Ironweed -8
- Grass pink -*
Floristic Quality Assessment Index=15.18