Plants of  Griggs Reservoir Park

Griggs Reservoir Park or Griggs Reservoir for short is a beautiful 521 acre park located in the northwest area of Columbus.  The park butts up the Scioto River This park is maintained by the city of Columbus. Griggs Reservoir park boasts a number of attractions such as: fishing, a dam, picnic areas, a frisbee golf course, an amphitheater, a boat launch, a playground, and miles of walking and biking trails that run along the river. The dam that lies at the north end of the park was constructed in 1904.

The landscape and the ecology of Griggs Reservoir is influenced by the river. The park is hilly and tends to slope down towards the river itself. The park is home to numerous plants and animals and has proved a beautiful place to fish. The river runs north to south and its banks are crowded with plant life. The plant life extends to the top of the hill to the road that runs north to south as well. Shaded trails cut through the forest to display a diverse microecosystem.

BEWARE! Poison Ivy present (Toxicodendron radicans):

Poison Ivy is a poisonous plant that has many features  that make it avoidable and some of them are: leaf shape, appearance, and leaf complexity. If you know these you should be safe. Lets take a look.

Poison Ivy has compound leaves with leaflets in bunches of three. This is where the old saying “leaves of three? let them be” comes from. The margin of the leaflets can be anywhere from complete to finely serrated. The surface of the leaves are noticeably waxy, dull, and commonly appears red or brown. Poison Ivy is commonly a vine or bush found in semi- shaded areas. I captured a picture to help identify Poison Ivy.

Resources: Ohiodnr,

Trees of Griggs Reservoir Park

Eastern Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

The first tree observed on the botanical survey was the Eastern Black Walnut. The Eastern Black Walnut is a rapidly growing tree found all through out Ohio and Griggs reservoir is no exception. This tree has alternate pinnately compound leaves with 7-17 leaflets. Each leaflet has serrated margins and is hairy on the underside. This tree demonstrates drupes that can be found in throughout the tree. Each drupe is about an inch to two inches across. The tree commonly stands from 70-100 feet high and has a diameter up to four feet across.

Interestingly, the roots of the Eastern Black Walnut secrete a natural herbicide, juglone. Juglone inhibits the growth of many plants and animals that are within reach of its roots, which can be up to 50 feet from the base of the tree. Settlers of the United States used to place the drupes of the Eastern Black Walnut into meals such as: soups, stews, baked goods.

Resources:, The Peterson Field Guide

American Basswood (Tilia americana L.)

The next identified tree is the American Basswood, which is medium to large tree growing from 50 to 80 feet tall. The leaves are simple in complexity and arranged alternately. The leaves themselves are a somewhat of a heart shape with an uneven base. The margins of the leaves are finely toothed. From June to August, this tree boasts small yellow flowers with multiple male reproductive parts and a single ovary. The fruits are found in clusters and are ovular in shape.

The American Basswood is interesting because it is a preferred stop for many animals to eat. The White-tailed deer stops to browse on vegetation, while birds and small mammals are seen eating its fruit. Bees are known to use hallow American Basswoods to store honey for Honey Bees.

Resources: Towson, The Peterson Field Guide

Shrubs and Vines of Griggs Reservoir Park

Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia)

The first vine that was identified was the Riverbank Grape vin. The Riverbank Grape plant is a woody, perennial, vine. It is a beautiful vine that has the ability to grow up to 50 feet long. It is known for climbing anything from trees to shrubs in the wild. The stems can become thick and shaggy toward the base of the trunk. The stems of the leaves are yellowish green to red. The leaves are alternate in arrangement and simple in complexity. The leaves themselves are palmately lobed.

Although the fruits of the Riverbank Grape resembles the grapes found in the grocery store, they’re are more tart. They have not been known to make wine but it is possible and many have tried. Some even consider this vine a pest because it can strangle other plants by smothering them.

Resources:, The Peterson Field Guide

Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.)

The Common Buckthorn is an invasive shrub that is native to Europe and Asia. This shrub has the ability to reach heights of 20 of more feet. The leaves are simple in complexity and opposite in arrangement. Interestingly, this shrubs leaves can also be seen as alternate. The beautiful leaves of  Common Buckthorn are pearly green  and elliptical in shape. The flowers are small and green. The fruits of the  Common Buckthorn are dark berries that are plentiful all over the shrub.

There are many aspects of the  Common Buckthorns biology that make it well suited to be invasive. For example, the  Common Buckthorn seeds can be viable after lying in the soil for  up to six years. The seeds get dispersed well by animals over large distances. Interestingly,  Common Buckthorn has the ability to reproduce asexually via sprouting allowing it more opportunity to take over. Lastly, this shrub has the ability to grow in most areas despite the amount of sun. It is found both in shady areas and in open fields.


Resources:, The Peterson Field Guide

Flowers and Inflorescence of Griggs Reservoir Park

Tall Boneset (Eupatorium altissimum)

Tall Boneset is a dull white inflorescence with opposite leaves. Tall Boneset has short stemmed lance shaped leaves. Tall Boneset has clusters of flowers arranged in a flat-topped configuration. The head of each cluster only has five florets. Common Boneset and Late Boneset are very similar inflorescence but can be distinguished by its leaves.

Resources: Mdc, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide

Wingstem (Actinomeris alternifolia)

This bright yellow flower is Wingstem. Wingstem can be found throughout the east coast of the United states. Wingstem has alternate leaves that are lanceolate in shape. The leaves change depending on their location on the plant. Leaves at the top of the plant are smaller and have smoother margins. The flowers of Wingstem grow in clusters along the top of the plant. The flowers are small disk flowers with yellow ray flowers. Wingstem is found near forests because it prefers moist areas with ample sunlight.

Resources:, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide