Cedar Bog is actually not a bog but in fact a fen! It is the largest and best example of a fen here in Ohio. It is home to many rare plants and animals and in fact 40 % of Ohio’s most rarest species are actually all here . A fen is a type of wetland along with marshes , bogs , and swamps. However a fen area actually drains water whereas a bog would retain water .Cedar Bog is a fen that was left behind from the southward moving glaciers of the Ice Age that came across Ohio around 14,000-24,000 years ago . As a result of the glaciers folding around the highest point of the state , the hills of Bellafontaine. It created a line to the east and west of Cedar Bog , leaving the fen in the bottom of a valley . Water reaches the bog from surface runoff of the opposing sides around the site . Groundwater that filters in through the gravel, and through deep groundwater that comes through the ancient buried Taeys river valley.
During our wonderful trip , we walked the mile long board-walk and encountered many awesome plants but here are just some of the best . I’ll save the best ( in my opinion ) for last so tune in !
My assignment during our stay was to identify two plants with entire leaf margins :
Star -flowered -Lily of the Valley or also known as False solomon’s seal (Maianthemum stellatum) is a flowering plant native to North America belonging to the Asparagaceae family . These leaves are alternate , elliptic , stem -clasping with rounded bases and pointed tips. The flowers are unbranched and clustered right at the tip of the flowering stem , it has a raceme inflorescence. The flowers much like its name are white and star-shaped .It is a bit hard to see in the picture but if you look closely you can also see the green berries it produces which might have dark stripes that eventually ripen to black in color.
Here we have Tall coreopsis or (Coreopsis tripteris) , it belongs to the family Asteraceae. It gets its name because it is said that it can grow up to 80 inches in height! However , this perennial herb usually reaches 40 inches . The leaves are divided into three leaflets that are smooth edged and lobed in shape . This plant flowers in the summer producing yellow flowers , the center of the flower head (not pictured) has many florets which can vary in color from red to brown to purplish . This plant can grow in dry soil but it tends to be shorter , when it is grown in well drained and moist soil it grows taller and more lush.
One of the most important things about the bog like mentioned before is that it is home to plants that don’t particularly survive or do well elsewhere so these plants all have a “coefficient of conservatism “. Meaning it is assigned a numeric value indicating its sensitivity to anthropogenic (originating in human activity i.e pollution) disturbance. These numbers are used so conservationists can effectively prioritize which plants and natural areas need the most monitoring and restoration . A plant species with the highest score 10 has a low tolerance and is usually restricted to undisturbed habits .
Our lovely FEN plants with their coefficients of conservatism ( according to the FQAI from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency or Ohio EPA for short :
First up we have Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) : is an evergreen coniferous tree belonging to the Cupressacceae family native to Canada , north central and eastern US. Very much used as ornamental plant . The bark is red-brown it peels in narrow longitudinal strips. The leaves are considered scaly that form in sprays and has fan like branches. Northern white cedar has these seeds that are cone shaped ,yellow -green in color that soon ripen to brown. They are usually at-least 8 seeds clustered together. Northern white cedar in particular survives at Cedar bog because of the cold groundwater that occurs in the low spot of the valley. Its coefficient of conservatism is a 9 .
Swamp birch ( Betulla alleghaniensis) is a medium to large deciduous tree belonging to the Betulaceae family that grow best in sandy , moist , acidic and well drained areas . These are slow growing trees that can live for up to 150 years . It is the largest birch species in North America . The bark is shiny yellow when mature and strips off in horizontal peels . The leaves are alternate and oval in shape , can have a pointed tip with some people saying that it’s heart shaped with a double serrate margin. Its flowers can be male or female . The male flowers hang downward are yellow purple in color and arrange in groups of 3-6 . Female flowers stick upward , are long and oval , and smaller in size compared to their male counterparts . It is considered the most important species of birch for its lumber .The wood is strong and heavy can be used for flooring , furniture , doors , even for toothpicks. Its coefficient of conservatism is 10 .
Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a woody shrub or small tree belonging to the family Anacardiaceae, may be known as thunder wood in southern US. The entire plant contains a resin called “urushiol “ it causes irritation to the skin and mucous membranes in humans , even if its burned inhalation can cause a reaction such as irritation to the lungs leading to fatal respiratory difficulty. The leaves are pinnate containing 7-13 leaflets , oval to oblong in shape with a sharp point . The stems themselves can be red in color as well as the leaves specifically more towards the top of the plant or leaf . New bark is a light gray but darkens as it ages . Poison sumac fruit is a creamy white colored cluster of berries not perfectly round , and are actually a food source to some birds and animals who are unaffected to the urushiol . It grows exclusively in wet and clay soils usually in bogs and swamps . Poison sumac is more toxic than its relatives poison ivy and poison oak . I wasn’t able to get the best photo but I added a picture that was on the trail as a better reference .It has a coefficient of conservatism of 7 .
Finally my favorite the Showy lady’s -slipper (Cypripedium reginae ) , a rare orchid native to northern North America . It has vanished from much of its range due to suitable habitat loss. This belongs to the Orchidaceae family ( no surprise there! ). This lady slipper has a pouch shaped labellum (lip) is quite large growing in at 21-100 cm in height . Each stem has 3-5 alternate leaves oval in shape . The upper petals are white while the pouched lip is a rose pink to magenta color . This plant grows in wetlands , like fens , or woody swamps and riverbanks. The plant became the state flower of Minnesota in 1902 , was protected by state law by 1925 , and it is actually illegal to pick a showy lady’s-slipper in Minnesota . Crazy enough it’s a good thing we shouldn’t pick this rare flower up in Minnesota and just in general because its foliage hairs can cause a rash similar to poison ivy! The word reginae in latin means “queen “ and much like any other queen they are untouchable .Your only option is to stand back and see its beauty from a distance. So if you get a chance to see one don’t pluck it just enjoy the moment . This plant has a coefficient of conservatism of 10.