For my botanical survey project site I choose Blacklick Woods metro park located in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Blacklick Woods is a 643 acre metro park that includes wooded areas, swamp ponds, and prairies. Most of the plants that I documented for my project came from the Walter A. Tucker swamp preserve, the prairie just off the swamp, and from a handful of clearings found throughout the park. Blacklick Woods is relatively close to my house and I have visited this site many times and I was exited to do this project so that I could get a deeper appreciation for the types of plants that have always been there but I may have simply been ignoring. Below you will find an aerial view of Blacklick Woods from Google maps.
Before I dive into the plants I documented at my survey site I would like to start by talking about poison ivy, what it is, how to identify it, and why you should avoid it. I will start by showing you a picture of poison ivy that you will find below.
This plant is Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Poison ivy is well know for its ability to cause annoying and unbearable itchy rashes when a person’s skin comes into contact with Urushiol, a type of liquid that the plant produces. Luckily if you know what you are looking for you can easily identify this plant before you ever comes into contact with it. One of the easiest ways to identify this plant is that it occurs in groups of 3 leaflets. Other ways to identify this plant include its hairy vines and white drupes. Virginia creeper looks similar to poison ivy and is often mistaken for it but Virginia creeper is much less dangerous and can be distinguished by the fact that it does not have a hairy vine and it is in groups of five leaflets.
Flowers and Inflorescences
This flower is Geranium maculatum, also known as wild geranium. Wild geranium is actinomorphic, has five sepals and five purple petals, ten stamen, is syncarpous with five fused carpels and is hypogenous with a superior ovary. I found this flower right off the trail soon after I entered the woods. Wild geranium has a cyme inflorescence and the fruit is dry, does not split at maturity, and is capsule like. The capsules contain five cells each containing a seed that join into a beak like column that resembles a crane’s bill.
This flower is Iris virginica, more commonly known as Southern blue flag. Southern blue flag is zygomorphic, has six sepals, six petals, and three stamen. Southern blue flag is epigynous with an inferior ovary and is syncarpous with three fused carpels. I found this plant growing in standing water right next to a pond. This flower has a cyme inflorescence and the fruit is a capsule that splits along two or more seams to release two seeds.
This flower is Hesperis matronalis, more commonly referred to as Dames rocket. Dames rocket is actinomorphic, has four petals, four sepals, and six stamen. Dames rocket is syncarpous with 2 fused carpels and is periogynous with a superior ovary. I found this flower in a small prairie right outside of a wooded area. Dames rocket has a raceme inflorescence and the fruit is a modified capsule called a silique.
This flower Securigera varia, also known as Purple crown vetch. Purple crown vetch is zygomorphic, has five fused sepals, five separate petals, is unicarpellate and is hypogynous with a superior ovary . I found this plant next to the trail on a prairie. This plant has a umbel inflorescence and the fruits will be a legume.
This flower is Ranunculus septentrionalis, better known as swamp buttercup. Swamp buttercup is actinomorphic, has five sepals, five petals, and numerous stamen. Swamp buttercup is hypogynous with a superior ovary and apocarpous with numerous carpals. I found this flower right next to the trail, growing in a relatively wet area close to some water. Swamp buttercup has a raceme inflorescence and its fruit is an achene.
This plant is Lonicera japonica or Japanese honeysuckle. Japanese honeysuckle is native to eastern Asia and was brought to the United States to be used as an ornamental plant. This plant grows best in disturbed areas such as next to roadsides and forest edges. Methods for controlling the spread of Japanese honeysuckle include manual removal of the plant, including its roots and application of certain herbicides.
Our next invasive is Rosa multiflora, commonly called multiflora rose. Multiflora rose was introduced into the United States from eastern Asia for use as rootstock for ornamental roses. Multiflora rose grows best in sunny well-drained soil but can grow in many different habitats, which is why this plant has been found in every county in Ohio. Some potential control measures include, pulling individual plants, use of herbicides, and biological control methods such as use of the Rose rosetta virus or seed-infesting wasps.
This is Elaeagnus umbellata, better known as Autumn olive. Autumn olive is native to China and Japan and was introduced into the United States in the early 19th century. Autumn olive is another example of a plant that was brought over to be used ornamentally but became invasive. This plant can adapt to poor soil types and is found in grasslands, fields, woodlands, and disturbed sites. Control measures for this plant include manually removing plant and its roots and selective herbicide application.
This plant is Lonicera maackii, more commonly known as Amur honeysuckle. Amur honeysuckle is native to China, Russia, Korea, and Japan and it was introduced into the United States in the late 1800s for use as an ornamental plant and soil erosion control. Amur honeysuckle is shade tolerant and can invade moist woodlands, forest edges, and disturbed areas. Manually removal, controlled burns for infestations in open areas, and application of chemical pesticides are all strategies that can be used to control the spread of this invasive plant.
This is Acer ginnala, more commonly known Amur maple. Amur maple is native to northeastern Asia and was initially brought to the United States in the mid 1800s for use as an ornamental plant. Amur maple is found in forest edges, open disturbed areas, and open woodland. Control methods include manual removal, controlled burning, and application of herbicide.
Below you will find fruits that I photographed will surveying my site. I will attempt to identify the species of the plant based solely on the fruit.
From this fruit it is fairly easy to identify this plant as American sweetgum, given its very distinctive round shape, brown coloring, and spiky appearance. The fruits of a sweetgum tree are an aggregate of capsules. These fruits can be quite annoying if you like adventuring barefoot.
This plants fruits are long, slim, and pod shaped which points to this fruit being a legume. The shape of the fruit and the fruit’s slight red hue suggests that this plant is Cercis canadensis, better known as Redbud or Judas tree.
The fruit of this tree are a samara and appear to have been on the ground for quite some time which makes it a little more challenging to get a confident prediction of its species but given its distinctive flattened wing or samara shape it is likely this fruit is from a maple (Acer), perhaps a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) given its prevalence at the site.
This conifer is Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), even though not technically a fruit the species can still be identified using the cones alone. I was able to identify this tree by its small egg-shaped scaly cones. The small size of the cones was especially helpful for positive identification of this plant.
This fruit is an a type of nut known as an acorn. Acorns come from oak trees (Quercus) this acorn in particular may have come from a Southern red oak (Quercus falcata) although I am not totally confident. Acorns are from oak trees and given that this acorn is small, with a cupule that is quite large relative to the size of the nut this points to this tree being a southern red oak.
The fruit of this tree are a nut and has decayed substantially. Nevertheless, it can still be used to identify the tree it came from. The fruit is round, brown in color, and has ridges and grooves running down the side. These factors, especially the fruits unique shape suggest that this fruit is from a Black walnut tree (Juglans nigra).
Mosses and Lichen
Here is a moss I found growing on the base of a tree in a damp wooded area. I believe this moss is Mnium (Plagionium) cuspidatum or baby-toothed moss. This is because the moss kind of looks like a tiny vascular plant. This moss is relatively common in Ohio, having been found in every county in the state.
I found this moss growing next to a trail in the woods. I believe this moss is star moss or wavy starburst moss (Atrichum altecristatum). This moss stood out to me on account of the green star appearance.
I found this moss growing on log just in the woods just off the trail. This moss had a sort of feathery appearance and I believe it is brocade moss or Hypnum imponens.
This lichen is Flavoparmelia caperata, also known as Common greenshield lichen. Common greenshield lichen is a type of foliose lichen, which means that it is flat and leaf-like, and grows on a wide range of different types of trees. This lichen is common throughout Ohio and is found in every county.
This is Anomodon attenuatus, sometimes called poodle moss. I found this moss at the base of a tree where it formed a thick mat.