Highbanks Metro Park is a 1,200 acre park located in Lewis Center, Ohio. The park gets its name from the 100-foot-high shale bluff that overlooks the Olentangy State Scenic River. Tributary streams run throghout the park and have cut deep ravines into the eastern area of the park. Highbanks can be easily divided into two ecosystems, the upland and the lowland regions. The upland region can be found in the southeastern area of the park. Here, the ecosystem tends to be a bit drier as this part of the park is elevated above the river. Common trees that can be found in this region include Oaks and Hickories. The lowland region is found in the northwestern region of the park. Here, elevation is closer to river level and the ecosystem tends to be wetter with frequent flooding. Ash trees are common in this area.
Highbanks Metro Park has a lot to offer to its visitors. With miles of trails, four observation decks, a nature center, and plenty of picnic areas, there is sure to be something for everyone to do. The park is rich in diversity with native Ohio plants. I identify below a few of the plants that inhabit the park.
This Shagbark Hickory was found in the upland region of Highbanks. The leaves of this tree are alternately arranged and pinnately compound with 5-7 leaflets.
This tree is most easily identified by its bark, as pictured below. The wood of the Shagbark Hickory is known to be hard and durable. For this reason, its wood was used in the past for the construction of aircraft (https://www.softschools.com/facts/plants/hickory_facts/1216/).
The Shagbark Hickory Tree has a Coefficient of Conservation Value of 6. This one of the highest CC values that I have found thus far in Highbanks Metro Park. A CC value of 6 means that means that the Shagbark Hickory has a narrow range of ecological tolerances and is fairly stable where it is at.
This American Beech tree was found in the drier, upland region of the metro park. The Beech has leaves that are alternately arranged and simply compounded.
The bark of the American Beech is smooth and gray. It is easy to carve into, as you can see from the picture below. There are not many diseases or insects that are known to pose a risk to the American Beech tree. Instead, it is more susceptible to toppling over due to strong winds in urban areas (http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-beech-trees/).
The American Beech Tree has a Coefficient of Conservation Value of 7. This the highest CC value that I have found thus far in Highbanks Metro Park. A CC value of 7 means that means that the American Beech has a narrow range of ecological tolerances and is fairly stable where it is at.
This Pawpaw tree was found in the upland region of Highbanks where the ecosystem tends to be drier. The Pawpaw’s growth height is limited and is most times referred to as a shrub. Its leaves are arranged alternately and are simply compounded. The trees bears large fruits that are edible. Pawpaw trees are very rarely found growing near the Atlantic or Gulf coasts. The trees require a minimum of 400 hours of winter chill and at least 160 frost free days in order to grow successfully (https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/pawpaw.html).
This Burning Bush shrub was again found in the dry, upland region of Highbanks Metro Park. It has a opposite leaf arrangement with a simple leaf complexity. The bush gets its name from the bright red color that its leaves turn in the fall.
The Burning Bush has a Coefficient of Conservation Value of 3. This one of the lowest CC values that I have found thus far in Highbanks Metro Park. A CC value of 3 means that means that the Burning Bush has an intermediate range of ecological tolerances and are usually able to persist under some disturbances. The fruit of the Burning Bush can be used as a fever reducer and to kill various infections. However, these fruits can also cause women to have strong uterine contractions that could abort a pregnancy (https://www.bellarmine.edu/faculty/drobinson/BurningBush.asp).
This Waterleaf was found in the upland region of Highbanks. The flower has 5 petals, 5 sepals, and 5 stamens. All of these are separate and not fused. This flower is easily identified by the large maple-like leaf on the plant and its hairy stems.
This common blackberry was found in the more wet, lowland region of Highbanks. The plant was just beginning to flower. Above, you can see that there are 5 petals and 5 sepals that are separate. A compound drupe, known as a blackberry, will develop from the center of the flower in the month to come. This fruit has a large historical relevance. In ancient Greece, the blackberry was used as a remedy for gout. In ancient Rome, the leaves from the plant were made into tea to treat a number of illnesses (https://www.tytyga.com/History-Of-Blackberry-Plants-a/370.htm).
The Common Blackberry has a Coefficient of Conservation Value of 1. This the lowest CC value that I have found thus far in Highbanks Metro Park. A CC value of 1 means that means that the Common Blackberry is widespread taxa that is not only common to this region.
Poison Ivy is found all over the state of Ohio, and Highbanks is no exception. This patch of itchy vine was found at the trail head of one of the nature paths. I was greeted by this vine as soon as I stepped out of my car.