Geobotany of Battelle Darby Metro Park

Ohio Geology can be separated into two types of formation due to the long lasting effects of glaciers. On the eastern side of the state the area that was unglaciated region that which has erosion resistant sandstone on top and underneath is erodible shale. Erosion of this area has lead to deep valleys with deep sandstone hills. On the western half of the state the underlying rocks are made up of erodible limestone and dolomite. After erosion from time and glaciers this region has resulted in a flat, even landscape. The rock types of each are very different and result in very differing landscapes.

Sedimentary rock strata of Ohio consisted of a thick layer of limestone at the base, a layer of shale in the middle and on top is a layer of sandstone. The strata formed an arch in western Ohio extended north to south that was eroded down to form its low lying toe made of limestone in the west. This erosion led to the oldest layer of limestone being exposed forming flat plains of the west. In the east the tough sandstone resisted the erosion leaving hills. Most of the erosion was accomplished by Teays river which was present in the state for 200 million years and lasted until the arrival of the ice age and glaciers.

Glaciers were able to sweep through the flat level plains of western Ohio with no resistance but were slowed by the deep valleys and hills of eastern Ohio. This left much of eastern Ohio without glaciers and the east completely covered. Here is a sketch to demonstrate what would have been covered.

Glacial boundary

Glacial till is described as a mix of sand, silt, clay, and boulders which accumulate as glaciers melt. The till occurs as a blanket across the glaciated area of Ohio and the contents will resemble the contents of rock strata below. where the western till of Ohio will be more lime and clay while the eastern part is more sandstone where the glaciers could reach.

The substrate of western Ohio is limey with high clay content, which leads to an impermeable soil that doesn’t drain well and is poorly aerated. The water pools on surface of the substrate and leads to poor oxygen content, however there is abundant availability of nutrition to plants that can live in these environments. The substrate of eastern Ohio is more permeable sandstone which leads to acidic soil and poor nutrition to plants. The permeable sandstone allows for water to come from springs and beneath the surface, however the shale underneath is impermeable and prevents water from soaking into lower levels and being constrained to sandstone level.

Some species that are generally limited to high lime, clay substrates include Eastern Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlebergii), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), and Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).

Eastern Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)

Hophornbeam is named as the fruit resembles hops when it hangs

Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

The hackberry is a medium sized tree that looks very similar to elm which is why it is sometimes called a false elm

Chinquapin Oak (Quercus muehlebegii)

The chinquapin oak is also called dwarf oak due to its smaller size compared to other oaks

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar maple have their sap used to make maple syrup 40gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

The witch hazel has flowers that bend downward and believed to have gotten its name from this

Some species that have a distribution limited to limey/ high clay substrates of western Ohio include Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), American Elm (Ulmus americana), Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabraI), and American Basswood (Tilia americana).

Some species that have a distribution in sandstone hills of eastern Ohio include Chestnut Oak (Quercus montatna), Scrub pine (Pinus virginiana), Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), Mountain maple (Acer spicatum), Greenbrier (Smilax glauca).

The Sweet buckeye’s main determinant believed to be related to climate as it occurs in the south and eastern parts of Ohio and not in glaciated region in the east. Compared to Hemlock which is more distributed and its determinant is related to being restricted to continuously cool, moist environments which are more common in the state. Rhodendron main determinant is it’s migration is limited to the Teays river valley which was blocked by glaciers and distribution is now affected as a result of the glaciers retreat.

Cedar Bog

The bog that isn’t a bog as cedar Bog is actually a Fen. The saying “bogs clog and fens flush” helps. Bogs occur when water is brought in through rainfall and accumulates and can’t escape other than evaporation. This leads to the formation of peat through low amount of oxygen leading to accumulation of organic matter that compacts at bottom of water. In a fen water enters through rainfall and groundwater and can exit through small streams. The water is a limey and alkaline which sedges love to grow in. The valley traps a lot of water as it cant drain through the substrate and must leave through a stream or evaporation.

During the trip I had the assignment of finding 2 yellow asters where the first I found was Prairie dock (Siliphium terebinthinaceum). This can be identified by its large basal leaves on long petioles and its yellow colored flowers. It is made up of ray and disk flowers as an inflorescence which contain many flowers in it’s disk. At first glance appears to be only one flower and the individual flowers have Five stamens that form a tube around the style. Can get very large up to almost 10 feet tall. The name commons from Greek with reference to resin as it was a common spice back then https://www.thehighline.org/blog/2017/09/12/plant-of-the-week-prairie-dock/

The second yellow aster I found was Sawtooth Sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus). Can be identifited by its yellow color and its inflorescence flower arrangement that resembles a singular flower. The flowers have five stamens that form a tube around the style. Tend not to be too tall reaching up to a 2 feet tall. A plant native to the Midwest and has been used a folk remedy to treat fevers and the stems used for burns and malaria https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/helianthus/grosseserratus/

The Botanical surveying group

Dichotomous key to ID me

1: species is a tree American Sycamore (Plantus occidentalis)

1: species is Human 2

2: Is wearing a blue shirt 3

2: Is not wearing a blue shirt Unknown Id

3:Human is a male Rory Schmidt -you identified me

3: Human is a female Unknown Id