For our lovely course project I surveyed the plants at a lovely place that I enjoy frequenting called Glen Echo. It is a beautiful ravine that is located in Clintonville, which is just northeast of Ohio State’s main campus. I enjoy simply walking through this park, but it is also used for dog walks, picnicking, and other random and fun activities like geocaching. Considering that this park is in the middle of a packed suburban housing area, 4.2 acres is a pretty impressive amount of space for this park! One of my favorite things about this park is the creek that runs through it, in which I have seen dogs, humans, and wildlife alike all enjoy. It also has lots of neat plants – how convenient for this assignment!
A new (to me) tree that I found here is called the Northern Catalpa! It has really large leaves and really pretty, irregular flowers both of which caught my eye. These trees were actually introduced to Ohio by farmers who planted it to use it as cheap fence posts (http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/catalpa). So shoutout to the farmers of Ohio for this eye-catching tree!
A shrub I found at this site was the Japanese Honeysuckle. Does this shrub have a bad rap? yes. Is it invasive? yes. Could we use less of it around? yes. But do I think that it has pretty flowers? yes. Anyway, I wasn’t at all surprised to find this bad boy here at the park. Think what you may about the honeysuckle, to each his own!
I found many lovely flowers at Glen Echo but I will only share two with you. First of the two is the golden ragwort. This flower belongs to the Asteraceae family. Not many mammals will eat this plant because it has a very slight toxicity. Sheep, however, still seem to eat it! (https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_paau3.pdf) Not sure what that says about sheep, but I’ll let you figure that one out.
The next flower I shall show you is one that you are very familiar with, even if you don’t quite realize it! It is the white clover! This little guy belongs to the family fabaceae. While we may consider this flower a weed, it is very important in pastures as it is highly nutritious for livestock! (https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_trre3.pdf). Who knew?!
And so now we come to poison ivy. There is a reason that DC created a villain after this vine – it sucks! (on an unrelated note, Marvel is way better than DC and I stand behind that 100%). I don’t think I need to explain why people are not a fan of this vine, but I will anyway just for the fun of it! It can leave a nasty, itchy, splotchy, red rash where it comes in contact with your skin. Don’t scratch at it though, because if you do, the oils will spread and your rash could get worse! 8-year-old me learned this lesson the hard way. Would not recommend. So how then does one spot these leaves so one can promptly stay away? “leaves of three, let it be”, right? Well, yes. Poison ivy does have three leaflets. But so do other plants that aren’t poison ivy. Okay, so then you found a plant with three leaflets.. now what? Option A could be to run away and avoid plants at all costs. Option B could be to touch the leaf and wait to see the outcome. Option C could be to take a closer look (but don’t touch!). If you chose option C, here are a few more clues that you might be looking at poison ivy: the leaflet in the middle has a long stem than the two on the sides, the leaves alternate on the vine, it is green in the summer and can range from red-orange-yellow in the spring and fall. It grows in many places and can take on a variety of forms, so it is best to always be on the lookout when around wooded areas!
Another fun part of plants – Fruit!
Neither fruit I found at my study site, but I still want to share!
On our hike to a nearby river during class we found a pawpaw, or if you want to get fancy, a Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal. This fruit is a berry that belongs to the custard-apple family. The flowers are a purple-brown and have 6 petals. The fruits on this tree are just little baby guys.
Another fruit I found was in my boyfriends’ backyard off campus (shoutout to my boyfriend for having a cool plant in his yard). The tree is a Prunus avium L. For those of you who haven’t memorized latin names of trees, that would be a sweet cherry tree. This tree was brought over from Europe and it has ‘escaped’ to the wild. The flowers are in 5 parts and they have a hypanthium which makes sense considering they are in the rose family.
A flower that I did find at my site was smooth solomon’s seal. What a cool freaking flower! I almost missed it because these flowers stem from the axils and are found underneath the leaves. They are a green-whiteish bell shaped flower with a 6 part perianth and an inferior tricarpellate ovary. The flowers have tubular corollas which make that fun shape and it has three united carpels.
Another flower I found is the common nine bark. It is in the rose family and it is a 5 petaled corymb. They are little white flowers in clusters and it develops drooping red fruit in summer. It has 3-5 pistils and 30-40 stamen and a hypanthium.
and to round out our (my) fun journey with discovering plants – moss!