Battelle Darby Metro Park (wetland, and woodland lime-loving plants)

   Ohio’s geology can be regarded as two distinct regions in general, being sandstone-capped hills in the Cleveland area and a steep, hilly sandstone landscape. The two regions differ in elevation as well as the quantity and depth of sandstone present.

   Originally, the sequence of sedimentary rock strata in Ohio entailed thick limestone layers overlapped by shale layers, overlapped by sandstone. These layers of rocks had been tilted lowly into an arch before the occurrence of erosion. The arch stood highest where the processes of erosion had cut deepest. The oldest layers of limestone were exposed along the crest of the arch that expands through western Ohio. A majority of the erosion of western Ohio’s limestone and eastern Ohio’s shale and sandstone occurred due to the preglacial stream, the Teays River. The stream has been determined to have been present for around 200 million years, eroding the landscape throughout the duration of its existence. After the emergence of the Ice Age’s glaciers, less than a million years ago, the river’s erosion was curtailed.

   In eastern Ohio the steep sandstone hilly landscape decelerated the glaciers. This deceleration contrasted with the smoother undisturbed glacial movement in western Ohio’s limestone landscape, created a glacial boundary stretching through the state.

   Glacial till consists of deposits left behind after a glacial movement, such as mixtures of sand, silt, clay, and rocks. Till is present throughout glaciated Ohio. Larger sediments were deposited from the melting of glaciers, while grainier deposits of sand and gravel were distributed through meltwater in local hills or valleys. 

   In western Ohio the till consists largely of lime and clay, due to the impact of the glaciers with the landscape’s limestone bedrock. In contrast, eastern Ohio glacial till contains low quantities of lime and clay. Though, near the edges of sandstone hills, clay and lime deposits are greater relative to the rest of eastern Ohio.

   Western Ohio’s plains consist mostly of limey and clayey till. The soil is impermeable, relatively. The soil contains large concentrations of lime, but has poor drainage and aeration. Water has a tendency to sit on the surface of these soils, creating low oxygen availability during periods of high precipitation as well as prolonged periods of drought during drier weather. Comparatively, with the rest of Ohio, plant nutrients are fairly abundant. In the absence of glacial till, soil covering limestone tends to be more shallow, high in lime concentration, nutrient rich, as well as have excessive drainage. 

   In contrast, eastern Ohio’s soil contains more sandstone bedrock that is much more permeable. When exposed, it leads to an acidic substrate that is low in nutrients. In some areas containing shale beneath the sandstone, a low-nutrient acidic substrate is produced as well. Unlike with sandstone, the shale layer is impermeable. Rather than soak water has a tendency to runoff, making it more susceptible to droughts in dry weather. Layers of shale within sandstone is also an occurrence. Water permeates through the sandstone layers, then runs off on hillsides in the form of springs. Concentrations of clay and lime result in more moisture, and less acidic soils that are rich in nutrients. Till that is present near the edges of sandstone regions has higher concentrations of both clay and lime, making the substrates more similar to those created by western Ohio’s till.

   Of the many trees and shrubs that are concentrated more in regions of limestone and limey substrates a few are Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud), Celtis occidentalis (hackberry), Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak), Ostrya virginiana (American hophornbeam), and Crateagus mollis (hawthorn). Eastern redbud occurs on drier more elevated sites with shallow limestone, hackberry is present and more common along Ohio’s floodplains, chinkapin oak and American hophornbeam are more common in areas containing limestone or limy substrates, and hawthorn occurs distrubred sites that are drier and contain shallow limestone bedrock.

   Some trees and shrubs that are limited in the substrates of western Ohio that are more clay-rich and have higher concentrations of lime are Acer saccharum (sugar maple), Fagus grandifolia (American beech), Quercus borealis (northern red oak), Carya ovata (shagbark hickory), and Quercus bicolor (Swamp white oak). Sugar maple, American beech, northern red oak, and shagbark hickory are the most common species in these areas. Swamp white oak occurs in wetter areas that contain longer lasting standing water.

   A few trees that are limited to more acidic and dry substrates that accompany the sandstone rich hills of eastern Ohio are Quercus montana (chestnut oak), Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood), Pinus virginiana (scrub pine), Pinus rigida (pitch pine), and Tsuga canadensis (hemlock). Chestnut oak, sourwood, scrub pine, and pitch pine all occur in drier substrate on the tops of hills that contain shallower exposed sandstone bedrock. Hemlock thrives in cooler, more moist environments found in valleys.

Cedar Bog

As seen on the signs posted at Cedar Bog, Cedar Bog is not a bog. Cedar Bog is actually a fen with a system that flushes, rather than clogging like a bog would. The water flushed through Cedar Bog is obtained through groundwater, surface runoff, and deep groundwater. The system is flushed as precipitation enters the area through rain, and small streams drain the fen.

For a scavenger hunt I managed to find two different flowers with bilateral symmetry! Since I was unable to attend the Cedar Bog trip, I found these flowers when we went to our Hocking Hills field trip.

Orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

The first, orange jewelweed,  I found before we even went into the woods. This cluster was located along the outskirts of some old wood piles. As you can see in the photos, these flowers have bright orange and yellow petals. Each flower has bilateral symmetry and a combination of long and short fused petals. The leaves are ovular and are shallowly serrated.


A fun fact about jewelweed, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the name jewelweed may have originated from the way rain droplets and dew bead up and sparkle on the leaves.

Great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

The second flower I found on our trip is great blue lobelia, or blue cardinal flower. Great blue lobelia also have bilateral symmetry in their fused petals. They have tubular purplish-blue flowers along with alternate toothed leaves.

All parts of the plant are considered to be poisonous to humans- though with low severity poison characteristics. According to the North Carolina Extension Gardner Plant Toolbox, this plant was chosen as the 1993 NC Wildflower of the Year