Hello all, welcome to the very confusingly titled blog for this week. It may be some jumbled words to you but as you work your way reading things will hopefully make a bit more sense and if not then well I must have not done too great of a job…. but I think I can make things clear enough for you! Check out the topics for this week down below and learn some new things about plants and say hello to some new plants for this week and revisit some friends we have already learned about! Happy reading!

 Floristic Quality Assessment Index

The Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) is a bioassessment method that in essence gives an estimate to the habitat quality based upon the plant community that resides there. This done through a series of assessments and equations to develop a FQAI score. Each plant species that is found in the area is given what is called a coefficient of conservatism or CC score from 1 to 10 which is the degree of site fidelity a species shows relative to all other species within that area. This essentially describes the species range of ecological tolerances with 0 being plants that have a wide range of ecological tolerances and a 10 being plants with a narrow range of ecological tolerances and more specified habitat requirements. Below is a table of 20 different plant species along with their CC scores I have documented at my forested floodplain site I have discussed before.

Species (common name) CC Score Species (common name) CC Score
Pawpaw 6 Sycamore 7
Eastern Cottonwood 3 Redbud 3
Boxelder 3 Honey locust 4
Silver Maple 3 Ironweed 2
Pokeweed 1 Black Cherry 3
Greenbrier 4 White Ash 6
Moonseed 5 Blue Mistflower 3
Riverbank Grape 3 Common Evening Primrose 1
Virginia Creeper 2 Ohio Buckeye 6
Poison Ivy 1 White Snakeroot 3






Based on these 20 species we will calculate the FQAI. Check it out and follow below! (If you hate math like most people feel free to skip past the equations)

I = ∑ (CCi )/√(Nnative)

I = ∑ ( 6+3+3+3+1+4+5+3+2+1+7+3+4+2+3+6+3+1+6+3)/√(20)

I = 69/4.47 so I = 15.44

This value indicates a site with what is considered a poorer vegetative quality which values range from 1-19. Read more about this index here: https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/section7/s7process/plants/FQA.html

Check out more details on the top 4 highest CC score species and the lowest 4 as well!

Four Highest CC Scores:

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) CC = 7. Read more about them where I pulled my information here: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_ploc.pdf











Sycamore is often a larger tree with very large alternate simple serrated leaves and white smooth bark with darker bark peeling off the tree with age. These trees are usually very distinctive by their white and brown peel bark and big leaves! Check a small one I found growing in their common bottomland/floodplain/riparian area habitat. Fun fact sycamore seedlings can tolerate complete submersion in flooding events!


Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) CC = 6. Read more here: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_astr.pdf

Pawpaw is small understory tree with beautiful elongated leaves and 4-inch-long green tasty and or disgusting fruit depending after you try it! Pawpaw is an alternately leafed tree with thin smooth brown/gray bark that is usually under 25 feet. Fun fact pawpaw grow in humid climates and are very tolerant to frost!

White Ash (Fraxinus americana) Check out more here: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_fram2.pdf

White Ash is an oppositely branched species with pinnate leaves with one leaflet on the tip and there usually being seven leaflets per leaf. They have small buds that look like a tiny chocolate chip and have diamond shaped ridged bark. Fun fact white ash seeds were/are a food source for many animals such as wood ducks, turkeys, mice, and more!

Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) CC= 6. Find out more information here: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_aegl.pdf

The bark is smooth and light gray that becomes rougher as it matures. They have a distinct very large round terminal bud which is handy for winter ID! They exhibit opposite branching with leaves that are palmate with 5 serrate leaflets. Fun fact Ohio buckeye is one of the first trees to leaf in spring which also means one of the first to drop leaves in fall!




Four Lowest CC Scores:

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) CC = 1. Learn more about poison ivy and a couple other ‘poison’ species here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/ep/ep22000.pdf

Poison Ivy is a woody vine that can be found growing along basically anywhere such as trees or buildings, along the ground, and/or even growing in a shrub like fashion. They have leaves with three serrate leaflets and their vine stems are often covered in little hair like structures. Fun fact poison ivy stems and leaves alike can cause the classic rash when came into contact with but the stems store more of the oils during the winter!










American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) CC = 1. Check out more here: https://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=112

Pokeweed is a tall stemmed and large bushy perennial plant that can grow up to 10 feet. The stems are usually reddish purple, and the leaves are large alternate smooth shiny simple elliptical leaves ranging in various sizes. The fruit grows in clusters looking like a bunch of grapes! Fun fact roots are the most toxic parts of the plant!











Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia ) CC= 2. Learn more here: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_paqu2.pdf

A very common woody vine that grows just about anywhere hence the low CC score. Virginia creeper has 5 serrated palmately arranged leaflets. They grow along the ground or up trees and many other surfaces with the use of its adhesive tendrils. Fun fact creeper sap can cause rashes and skin irritation in some people!

Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) CC = 1. Read more information here: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_oebi.pdf

This primrose is a biennial with small 4 petalled yellow flowers at the top of the stem opening only in the evening. The leaves are spear shaped, alternate, and usually hairy shallowly toothed leaves. Fun fact evening primrose is often considered weedy and even invasive in some places…..which helps explains their CC score! Also they are just a beautiful flower!












Invasive Species

Invasive species are never good yet many invasive stories started off good but went terribly wrong! Check out a few nonnative invasive species found in my area below and learn the interesting reason they were introduced to the US!

Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)

They are a shrub with simple alternate leaves that have tear drop tips. Their bark is light brown and often furrowed and they usually grow in an arched form. If you are ever unsure if you are looking at Amur honeysuckle snap a branch and look for the hollow pith and feel their slight textured leaves. They are often very obvious in the fall due to their numerous bright red berries they produce. Amur honeysuckle was introduced as an ornamental in the US around 1897. This shrub is a perfect invasive and cause many issue where it is present, interestingly like making mosquitoes worse as it has become an ideal egg laying host for mosquitoes. Read more here: https://theoec.org/blog/amur-honeysuckle-lonicera-maackii/


Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

They have rough pale gray bark with large pinnately compound alternate leaves with 13 to 40 serrated leaflets ranging from 3 to 5 inches and have samaras (seen below) like those of the maple family. It can often look like black walnut when young but does not produce nuts, it has different flowers, no chambered pith, different bark, and the bud scar is a shield shape with a curved line of bundle scars within. This invasive tree was actually introduced to the US in 1784 as an ornamental shade tree (worked out great I would say….). Check out more about why it is such a good invasive from this site where I pulled my information from: https://www.ecolandscaping.org/05/landscape-challenges/invasive-plants/tree-of-heaven-an-exotic-invasive-plant-fact-sheet/









Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)

They are a vine like shrub species with small serrated alternate compound leaves. Their branches are often covered in paired small thick thorns that curve backwards. The stems are often green to red in color. They branches are flexible and often arched in shape. The leaves have a characteristic stipule at the base of the leaf which usually has 5 to 11 leaflets. Multiflora rose was introduced to the US to be used as ornamental rose root stock in 1866 and was heavily planted in the 1930’s as a ‘living fence’. Read more here where I learned all this and more here: http://www.nifatrees.org/Resources/Documents/Invasives/multiflora-rose.pdf












Common Reed (Phragmites australis)

Commonly called Phragmites is an invasive perennial grass usually found in dense stands usually near water like were I found this group. They have hollow green long stems sometimes 15 feet tall. The leaves are grass like, a green bluish color, long and narrow sometimes being 20 inches long with parallel veins. The seeds are a grayish color and appear fluffy and can be a key identifying factor. Phragmites was an accidental introduction due to seeds and parts of plants being up taken in ships ballast water from Europe and discharged along the eastern US in the early 19th to late 18th centuries. Each individual plant produces thousands of seeds each year! Learn more here: http://nyis.info/invasive_species/common-reed/















Substrate-Associated Species

Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Hackberry like seen on the TREES page is an alternately branched tree with simple leaves that have a sandpaper texture. The leaves usually fit in the palm of your hand and come to a tear drop point and have an uneven base. They turn bright yellow in the fall! The bark has many large warts which makes it very obvious to identify. Hackberry is associated with limey substrates which fits were it was found being west of the Ohio glacial boundary and being from eat of the boundary I know I don’t see them as often there. Read more here: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/pg_ceoc.pdf



White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

White Ash which we discussed above but I included the identifying features here again: oppositely branched species with pinnate leaves with one leaflet on the tip and there usually being seven leaflets per leaf. They have small buds that look like a tiny chocolate chip and have diamond shaped ridged bark. These trees are usually associated with high lime clay rich wet soils which is basically right where I found this particular tree. It was west of the Ohio glacial boundary growing in a floodplain bottomland habitat! If you didn’t read more above here is that link again, check it out: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_fram2.pdf









Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)












Red cedar unlike any of the other tree species I have discussed is a conifer, so the identifying characteristics are a little different. Red cedar has leaves (needle like leaves) that are tube shaped and have scales that run along them. Hopefully, you can see what I mean in the picture. The branches are opposite and reddish brown with the main trunk having the same color, but the bark is usually is scaly along the trunk. These trees have separate male and female individuals. This cedar is associated like the others with limey soils like that of west of the Ohio glacial boundary which matches with where the tree was found. Learn more details here: https://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_juvi.pdf


Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Redbud is a smaller understory tree maxing out at 30 feet tall. The tree is alternately branched with simple 4 inched heart shaped leaves with very obvious veins. The bark is dark brown at maturity with some degree of scaliness to it often showing a reddish color underneath. This species like those above is also considered a limey substrate associate when again hold true in this instance. I do not often find a whole lot of these guys east of the Ohio glacial boundary. Check out more detailed info here: https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_ceca4.pdf







I hope you all enjoyed reading some different topics here and all the other topics I have discussed in other posts! I hope you have a great day/evening and I encourage all of you to do more research on your own time and explore what nature has to offer! More than anything just have courage to pursue and do what you love…


  • Jordan