The site I chose to survey is a small wetlands preserve right near my home in Westerville. The site, “College Knolls Wetland Preserve,” is a fairly small preserve with a walkable trail. When I visited, the site was flourishing with all sorts of greenery. Throughout my exploration of this wetlands preserve, I found a multitude of different vegetative and flowering species. Down below, I’ll highlight some that stood out to me.
callery pear (Pyrus calleryana, Rosaceae)
Throughout this preserve I found an abundance of callery pear. Not-so-fun fact, callery pear is actually an invasive tree species. Below, you can see this fruiting callery pear’s glossy curled leaves. The species originates from Asia, and their white flowers give off a not-so-pleasant odorous smell.
white mulberry (Morus alba, Moraceae)
Like red mulberries, white mulberries from mulberry trees are actually edible. As seen in the picture, white mulberry leaves are glossy and irregularly lobed. White mulberries fruit late in the spring so, unfortunately, the one I found at this wetlands was not in fruit.
Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii, Caprifoliaceae)
Here’s another not-so-fun fact (can you guess it?), Amur honeysuckle is also a wildly invasive species that hinders native plant health. This preserve was festering with it. As you can see in the picture, the bushes produce little red berries- that should not be consumed by humans.
hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium, Convolvulaceae)
wild carrot (Daucus carota, Apiaceae)
As you can see below, I found some wild carrot dispersed throughout the trail. I found some live flowering specimens as well as some dried out ones. Like how we learned in class, wild carrot is part of the parsley family. They are edible and oftentimes used for medicinal purposes.
longroot smartweed (Persicaria amphibia, Polygonaceae)
poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans, Anacardiaceae)
Finally, nestled in the underbrush, we have some poison ivy, or Toxicodendron radicans. In helping to avoid poison ivy growing up, I was always told the rhyme “leaves of three, let them be.” When attempting to ID poison ivy, just note that poison ivy has compound leaflets of three, each with toothed edges.
So far, as I’ve been surveying my site, I have encountered many different distinctive species. Below I will highlight 20 that stood out to me in order of lowest to highest according to their CC values. The FQAI I calculated for my site (through multiplying the mean CC value by the square root of the number of native plants), using a CC mean of 2.2 and 17 native species, was 9.1.
1.) Wild teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris): No value (Nonnative)
2.) Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea): 0 (cryptogenic)
3.) Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea): 0 (adventive)
4.) Common selfheal (Prunella vulgaris): 0 (native)
5.) Black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis): 1 (native)
6.) Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum): 1 (native)
7.) Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca): 1 (native)
8.) Common blue violet (Viola sororia): 1 (native)
9.) American elm (Ulmus americana): 2 (native)
10.) Canadian clearweed (Pilea pumila): 2 (native)
11.) White vervain (Verbena urticifolia): 3 (native)
12.) Virginia wild rye (Elymus virginicus): 3 (native)
13.) Wild crabapple (Pyrus coronaria): 3 (native)
14.) Panicled aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum): 3 (native)
15.) Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana): 3 (native)
16.) Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides): 3 (native)
17.) American bugleweed (Lycopus americanus): 3 (native)
18.) Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): 4 (native)
19.) Brown-eyed susan (Rudbeckia triloba): 5 (native)
20.) American basswood (Tilia americana): 6 (native)
Four of my highest native CC…
1.) American basswood (Tilia americana), CC value: 6
As you can see from the photo, Tilia americana is a distinctive tree that can be identified with its large serrated heart-shaped leaves. Each leaf is simple and alternately arranged, with a sharply pointed tip. American basswood is ranked highly with a CC value of six due to its narrow ecological requirements. It can only survive in stable ecosystems or climax communities and, since it can’t be found generally in any type of condition, it is ranked one of the highest out of my survey. According to the plant database from The University of Texas at Austin, Tilia americana is also known as the “bee tree.” When it flowers, it is a preferred tree of bees that produces a strong flavored honey.
2.) Brown-eyed susan (Rudbeckia triloba), CC value: 5
Brown-eyed susan is a part of the cone-flower family with radially arranged petals. They contain bright yellow petals and distinctive brown centers, hence the name “brown-eyed” susan. According to the NC state extension, North Carolina Extension Gardner Plant Toolbox, the flowers bloom in late summer through fall and has smaller more numerous flowers than the similar black-eyed susan.
3.) Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), CC value: 4
Throughout my survey of my site, I found some swamp milkweed. Swamp milkweed can be identified through its long narrow green leaves and, as seen in the picture, large green fruiting pods. According to the Monarch Butterfly Garden, swamp milkweed has a sweet, subtle vanilla scent and is very attractive to many different pollinators such as bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
4.) Panicled aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum), CC value: 3
Panicled aster is a wildflower containing flowers with radial symmetry. The blossoms contain many white rays, and a multitude of yellow disk flowers in the center. According to Gardenia Creating Gardens, the yellow disk flowers redden with age. This species tends to spread aggressively through its rhizomes and is found in dense patches.
Four of my lowest native CC…
1.) Common selfheal (Prunella vulgaris), CC value: 0
Common selfheal contains hairy bracts, simple leaves, as well as small bright purple flowers with bilateral symmetry. According to the Native Plant Trust Go Botany website, common selfheal has been used in traditional medicine around the world. In Quebec The Algonquin used this plant as a fever reducer.
2.) Black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), CC value: 1
Black raspberry has distinctive purple stems with pointed serrated leaves branching out from them. It has a lower ranked CC value of 1 since it can be found quite widespread in more general locations. The lower ranking is due to the fact that it is not part of a very specified or particular community. According to The University of Texas at Austin, black raspberry is a perennial shrub that is beneficial for wildlife. It serves as a pollinator and attracts different types of birds.
3.) Common blue violet (Viola sororia), CC value: 1
Common blue violet is a small plant with deeply indented heart-like leaves that are finely serrated. This plant bears purplish flowers during blooming season. According to the website Wild Edible, common blue violet is an annual groundcover that is actually edible. The leaves and flowers are edible and able to be foraged. It’s best to harvest younger leaves early to mid-spring.
4.) Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), CC value: 1
Common milkweed is a plant that is very attractive to all types of pollinators. It has oblong pointed leaves and produces pinkish-purple flowers during blooming season. Like swamp milkweed, it also fruits pods to release its seeds. According to the USDA website, common milkweed contains varying levels of cardiac glycoside compounds, making it toxic to most animal and insect species. This toxicity can also serve as a defensive mechanism for some insect species. In species, such as Monarch butterflies, it can be stored in their tissues and make them toxic upon consumption.
Four invasive species
1.) Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei)
At the end of our trip to Hocking Hills we stumbled upon an invasive species, wintercreeper. This plant has simple, narrow leaves with pointed tips. It is a vining plant with bright green foiliage. According to invasive.org, this plant originates from China, Japan, and Korea. It is an evergreen perennial vine that was introduced to serve as an ornamental groundcover. It spreads rapidly and outcompetes native species, making it a menace to ecosystems all throughout the U.S.
2.) Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
Multiflora rose is a highly invasive shrub. It has small narrow, curved leaves, accompanied with sharply thorned stems. According to the CFAES Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide, Rosa multiflora was introduced to the U.S. in the early 1800s as an ornamental shrub from its native home-range in Asia. Later on, it was used widely to aid in the control of soil erosion and serve as a source of wildlife cover. It is a highly invasive species that has a fast-growing, persistent root system.
3.) Narrow leaf cattail (Typha angustifolia)
Narrow-leaf cattail is another invasive species I encountered, this one was actually clumped throughout the wetlands site I surveyed. It is a tall dark green grass with large brown, pointed “cattails.” According to the National Park Service, this nonnative plant is invasive to disturbed sites. It most often hybridizes with the native broad-leaf cattail and produces the invasive (T. glauca).
4.) Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum)
Japanese stiltgrass is another invasive species we encountered at our Hocking Hills trip. It is a small green grass with thin stems bearing long, broader pointed leaves. According to the CFAES extension Ohioline, this invasive grass is an annual native to Asia that can form in patches extensively. It is believed that is was most likely introduced to the U.S. as an accident, serving as packing material in different shipments from its native habitat.
Four substrate-associated species
1.) White ash (Fraxinus americana)
White ash is one of the many trees identified in Forsyth’s Geobotany article. It is mentioned as a plant that are present in high-lime clay-rich substrates characteristically found in Western Ohio. Seeing as my site is in Central Ohio not Western Ohio, I can’t say this specific white ash fits this description. Since white ash is found sporadically throughout Ohio, I agree with her determination that it is found more abundantly in the drier sites of the limier, clay-rich areas of Western Ohio. This plant is almost exclusively found as saplings or dead/dying mature trees. Due to the emerald ash borer most adult trees have perished, and growing saplings will only survive up to a certain age. It contains pinnately compound leaves with six leaflets and one leaflet on the tip of the leaf. The specimen I found has dulled and browned in color, and is most likely a diseased specimen. Normally, the leaves are brighter green in color.
2.) Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
Northern red oak was also mentioned in the Geobotany article as a species thriving in clay-rich limy substrates found in the till of Western Ohio. I agree with her observations that it is found most commonly in these sites. This tree, or sapling as seen in the picture from my survey site, is characterized with simple alternately arranged pointy-lobed leaves. On my site I found a few mature trees as well as some saplings sporadically throughout my site.
3.) Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
Forsyth also mentioned hophornbeam in her article. It is another species found in Western Ohio’s limy and clay-rich substrates. As I’ve only seen this species sporadically, I agree with her determinations of its substrate preferences. I found this specific tree during one of my labs at Mock Park. It has stringy/stripped bark similar to shagbark hickory. Though its difficult to view in the photo, its green leaves are simple and serrated with prominent veins.
4.) Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Finally, I found this substrate-specified tree, Eastern redcedar at my survey site as well. According to Forsyth’s article they occur more on drier sites that are higher up, where limestone is present in shallow layers beneath the surface of the soil. I found a few of these dotted throughout my site. They have bright green foiliage with thin scale-like leaves. Though you can’t see in the photo, these trees produce blueish seed cones that are similar in appearance to berries.