The Olentangy River Trail is a place of surprising botanical diversity. Along the river are rocky banks and muddy slopes lined with two main habitats. Southward, near campus, dense thickets and wetlands lie between the trail and the river. This is where the highest diversity of herbaceous plants can be found, with many asters, vines, and other plants frequently found among the shrubs. North of campus the trail goes through a small urban woodland dominated by maples, mulberries, and beech trees. Interspersed along the trail are open areas and parks where many forest edge and open-area species can be found.

The red line shows the section of the trail that was surveyed.

Below are some cool plants and lichens that were found at the site, along with some other interesting information.

Tree 1: American Elm (Ulmus americana)

The lopsided leaves of the American Elm

The American Elm has alternate, double toothed leaves that are a bit lopsided at their bases. Unfortunately elm trees are continuing to fall victim to Dutch elm disease, which is caused by a  foreign fungus and kills older elm trees. (source:http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/americanelm)

Tree #2: Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

A slightly sad Sycamore

The Sycamore is a very large tree with blotchy-looking silver and brown bark. It’s leaves are relatively large and lobed into three to five main lobes. Unfortunately, Sycamores are also prone to a fungal disease! A fungus called anthracnose destroys the new growth of the tree in spring and leaves the tree weakened for the rest of the year. (source:http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/sycamore)

Shrub or vine #1: Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)

This bush is a Bush Honeysuckle.

The Bush Honeysuckle is a large shrub with long-tipped, egg-shaped opposite leaves. This plant’s bright red berries start to come out in September. Fun fact: these plants are intruders from Asia, and are quite notorious for invading a wide variety of habitats throughout much of the United States  (https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/bush-honeysuckles)

Shrub or vine #2: Riverbank Grape (Vittis riparia)

The leaves of the Riverbank Grape

The riverbank grape can be told from other grapes by it’s longer, pointed teeth. A fun fact is that the fruits of the Riverbank Grape are usually pretty sour until, in the norther parts of its range, the first frost makes them taste more sweet. (source:https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/shrub/riverbank-grape)

Flowering plant #1: Wavy-leaved Aster (Aster Undulatus)

The light purple flowers of the Wavy-leaved Aster

The Wavy-leaved aster has very light purple flowers with about 10-15 ray flowers each. The leaves are more or less egg shaped, with some leaves expanding near the base of the petiole and clasping the stem.

Flowering plant #2: False Boneset (Kuhnia eupatorioides)

The False Boneset

The False Boneset has very small white flowers in small clusters, with mildly toothed, lance-shaped leaves. You might see a stringy white stigma coming out each tiny little flower. Fun fact: the Contrasting Spur-Throated Grasshopper only feeds on this plant (https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/fs_bonesetx.htm)

Scary plant: Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans)

Poison Ivy

Leaves of three, let it be. Poison Ivy leaves come with three leaflets, with the end leaflet having a distinctly longer stem than the others. Unlike the similar fragrant sumac, Poison Ivy buds are visible. The fruits of Poison Ivy come in the  form of white berries.

Two Lichens

Below are two lichens for your enjoyment, identified using the

Powdery Axil-bristle Lichen (Myelochroa aurulenta)

Here’s some Powdery Axil-bristle Lichen

Lemon Lichen (Candelaria concolor)

Look closely and you will see the yellow Lemon Lichen

 

Coefficients of Conservation  and Floristic Quality Assessment Index for the Plants of the Olentangy River Trail

Species CC Family Status
Norway maple  (Acer platanoides) 0 Aceraceae adventive
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) 1 Anacardiaceae native
Wild Carrot (Daucus carotaa) 0 Apiaceae adventive
Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum) 0 Apiaceae adventive
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) 1 Asclepiadaceae native
Wavy-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum undulatum) 5 Asteraceae native
Common Burdock (Arctium minus) 0 Asteraceae adventive
Smooth Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) 7 Asteraceae native
Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) 2 Asteraceae native
Early goldenrod (Solidago juncea) 2 Asteraceae native
Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) 3 Asteraceae native
White Snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) 3 Asteraceae native
Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) 0 Asteraceae adventive
New York ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis) 3 Asteraceae native
Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) 5 Asteraceae native
Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) 0 Caprifoliaceae adventive
Common morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea) 0 Convolvulaceae adventive
Dull-leaf indigobush (Amorpha fruticosa) 3 Fabaceae native
White clover (Trifolum repens) 0 Fabaceae adventive
American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) 7 Fagaceae native
 Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) 6 Hippocastanaceae native
Black walnut (Juglans nigra) 5 Juglandaceae native
Canada moonseed (Menispermum canadense) 5 Menispermaceae native
Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) 7 Moraceae native
 Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) 1 Onagraceae native
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) 1 Phytolaccaceae native
Common plantain (Plantago major) 0 Plantaginaceae adventive
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) 7 Platanaceae native
Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) 5 Poaceae native
Virgin’s Bower (Clematis virginiana) 3 Ranunculaceae native
Prairie rose (Rosa arkansana) 4 Rosaceae native
Wood strawberry (Fragaria vesca) 3 Rosaceae native
Common Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) 3 Salicaceae native
American Basswood (Tilia americana) 6 Tiliaceae native
American Elm (Ulmus americana) 2 Ulmaceae native
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) 4 Ulmaceae native
 Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis) 5 Urticaceae native
Porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) 0 Vitaceae adventive
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) 2 Vitaceae native
Riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) 3 Vitaceae native
Floristic Quality Assessment Index 20.15254

FQAI calculated using the formula:

 

 

Two high CC species from the site:

Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra):

A picture of a young Buckeye taken by a young Buckeye

The Ohio Buckeye has palmately compound leaves of 5 leaflets, and can be distinguished from the similar Sweet Buckeye by it’s rougher bark, smaller size, and smelly twigs. The Ohio Buckeye is the state tree of Ohio, and, believe it or not, its lightweight wood is used to make artificial limbs. (source: http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/ohiobuckeye)

Smooth Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve):

The Smooth Aster flower

The Smooth Aster has smooth, lance-shaped leaves and a delicate, light purple flower head. They can be found in open woods and dry fields throughout most of the country, and flower in late summer and early autumn.

Two low CC species from the site:

Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):

The way too Common Dandelion

The Common Dandelion is an aggressively invasive weed with lobed basal leaves and a distinctive yellow flower head. Producing puffballs of dispersing seeds after flowering, the common dandelion is a common find on lawns and other grassy areas throughout the state.

Porcelain Berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata):

The invasive Porcelain Berry

The beautiful, multicolored fruits of the Porcelain Berry serve as distractions from the plant’s destructive invasiveness. This plant can be found climbing on trees and other surfaces in a variety of habitats, and is easily identified by it’s varyingly lobed leaves and bright purple and blue berries. It is this plant’s robust root system that give it a competitive edge over other species. While the berries are bland to taste, it’s best if you eat them to prevent the plant from spreading to other  areas. (source: https://www.bbg.org/news/weed_of_the_month_porcelain_berry)