Part I: Marsh, Prairie and Fen

Marsh

On the field trip, we visited a marsh habitat on Darby Creek Drive, near Battelle Darby Metro Park. The area consists of trails bordered by tall grasses and wetland habitat that is viable for various species of wildlife. The location is a great spot for birding, and one can observe a variety of species as they walk through the marsh.

The marsh near Battelle Darby is characterized by several prevalent species within the park. Dominant tree species include eastern cottonwood, willow, and sycamore. There are also several species of dominant herbaceous species at this location. These include wool sedges and grasses. Invasive species within the marsh are cattail, which can be found all throughout the trails.

This is goldenrod, which was observed in various spots throughout the marsh along Darby Creek Drive.

Prairie

The second stop on the field trip was a restored prairie at Battelle Darby Metro Park. The prairie was characterized by tall grasses and many species of flora that lined the trails. Dominant tree species included bur oak, swamp white oak, and red oak. There were a great deal of herbaceous plant species at the park, which included: pasture thistle. forbs, big blue stem, Indian grass, prairie dock, and stiff goldenrod, among others.

This plant is a flowering dogwood, which was found at the restored prairie at Battelle Darby Metro Park. Its characteristic fruits are shown here on the plant.

Cedar Bog

Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is located in Urbana, OH. It is home to a wide array of flora and fauna species, and its biodiversity is impacted by the suite of resources that are available at the location. Cedar Bog is characterized by a unique hydrology. Cedar Bog valley is essentially a horseshoe-shaped hose; imagine a puncture in the hose, and the leak becomes the wetlands of Cedar Bog Nature Preserve. Water reaches the bog in several ways. Surface runoff from uplands comes down through the site, and groundwater left through glacial moraines provides a viable source for plants at the site. Finally, groundwater that was left by the Teays River Valley performs the same function (Cedar Bog Nature Center).

Cedar Bog was formed by the folding of glaciers that resulted in moraines. These upland formations resulted in the valley that became Cedar Bog. The valley is filled with sand and gravel, making it an effective aquifer because these materials allow groundwater to pass through them (Cedar Bog Nature Center).

The site is improperly called a bog, when in reality Cedar Bog is a fen. Bogs are characterized by their clogging nature; water enters through rain and escapes through evaporation. A layer of peat is formed from decaying plant and animal matter, turning the water brown. A floating mat for this material is created by sphagnum moss. Conversely, fens are known to flush out material. Water enters through rain and springs, and the fen is drained by small streams that run through the area. Groundwater is full of limestone, which neutralizes the water and makes it clear. Cedar Bog is more so a fen, rather than the bog it is named (Cedar Bog Nature Center).

My scavenger hunt assignment was to find two plants within the Apiaceae family.

This is cowbane, a member of Apiaceae. It is known for its clustered inflorescences that are white when in season. The plant oozes a yellow liquid from its stem and roots, and it emits a rank odor.

This is angelica, another member of Apiaceae. It is known for its height (3-9 feet) and its clustered flowers that are arranged in an umbel and are white or yellowish in color. Some species of Angelica are used as flavoring agents or for medicinal purposes.

Part II: Hocking Hills (Woodlands)

Hocking Hills vs. Cedar Bog

My experience at Hocking Hills was unlike other students in class, as I was not able to go on the field trip to Deep Woods Preserve. I went on my own time and, being familiar with the area, I visited some of my favorite spots in the region. Hocking Hills is characterized by its gorgeous sandstone hills and cliffs; in general, this area contains steep hills and deep valleys that are underlain by shale. Conversely, Cedar Bog (and western OH in general) is characterized by limestone that is nonresistant to moisture, and the landscape is generally flat.

The sandstone hills of eastern OH are home to many tree species, including chestnut oak, mountain maple, hemlock, and sourwood. At Ash Cave and Cedar Falls, hemlock was found nearly all throughout the sites. I did not find any chestnut oak (or oak of any kind, really) and I did not know how to identify the non-descript sourwood. Nonetheless, I found maples, along with beeches and tulip-poplars that aren’t necessarily characteristic of the region. As far as plants go, I observed a landscape dominated by ferns wherever I went, and I found several species (see below).

A poor picture of a maple tree found at Ash Cave.

A hemlock tree found at Ash Cave; hemlocks were found in abundance at every site.

A towering beech tree found at Ash Cave.

Waterfall toppling over the edge of Ash Cave. I felt like adding this one because it’s beautiful.

The gorgeous Cedar Falls surrounded by hemlock trees.

 

I was assigned the task of finding two species of ferns in Hocking Hills. It was surprising to see how abundant the region was with various species of ferns. It’s amazing what you can find when you pay attention to what is around you!

This is a wood fern (Dryopteris marginalis)! I took this terrible picture while hiking at Ash Cave. This specimen was a few feet away from the trail; I saw many of these while exploring Hocking Hills. Its sori are covered by a kidney-shaped indusium (if only I had gotten a picture of that!).

This is Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)! I found this particular specimen while I was walking along the path at Ash Cave. There were several Christmas ferns in close proximity to one another, and I thought they looked very interesting. The plant is heteromorphic; here, the fertile portion withered away, but you can still see the distinct division of each part. It is one of the most common ferns of eastern North America.

Additional Botanical Features

While adventuring at Hocking Hills, I found what appeared to be a liverwort of some kind (my ID skills are lacking inĀ  that department) growing on top of some moss! These could be found all over the region, and they were a really cool sight to see!