Rocks and Roots Trail at Alum Creek State Park

This trail near the Alum Creek Marina is located in Lewis Center, Ohio with the Alum Creek State Park itself being 4,603 acres. Alum Creek sits in the middle of fertile land of the agricultural till plains and river valleys. The shale cliffs are also notable in may areas as the creek and other streams cut through the bedrock. Due to its rich soils, the forest is full of beech and maple, trillium and wild geranium, which brings the rabbits and white-tail deer and more.

 

So with the promise of fertile land, I stepped forward into the trail and WAIT A MINUTE IS THAT POISON IVY?!

Indeed, the 3-leaflets that are asymmetrically toothed on the margins is your itchy, uncomfortably friend Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy). When hiking please remember “Leaves of three, let them be” as this poison ivy was on the first tree I saw entering the trail. Also, if you noticed, there is a vine that has 5-leaflets instead of 3. It is actually a Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) which is commonly confused for poison ivy. But we will get back to the Virginia creeper later!

 


Trying to get my mind off of the poison ivy, I went to search for trees, I wanted to see the big guys!

Then I saw the tree that every OSU student should be able to identify-a Buckeye!

Ohio Buckeye – Aesculus glabra

The leaves of this tree is oppositely arranged and palmately compound with serrated margins. This particular one seems to have leaf spots starting to form on its leafs (hopefully it gets better). Apart from the leaf spots, a fun fact about the Ohio buckeyes compared to the other buckeyes (according to the Peterson Field Guide) is that if you scrape the bark of a young twig, it really smells… BAD (maybe not so fun to the person who smells it to make sure its the Ohio buckeye).

Shagbark Hickory – Carya Ovata

The leaves were high up in the air but the bark of the tree gave the identity of the tree away!

Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maachii)

Mayapple or Mandrake – Podophyllum peltatum

Cool thing about these guys is that  the unripened fruit is toxic when eaten but when ripen the fruit is used in jams and beverages!

Multiflora rose – Rosa multiflora

Multiflora rose seems to have a “cushioning” effect where it can be used as crash barriers along highways, windbreaks, fences and more.

Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium montanum)

Native American used the roots of this plant  to make tea for treating diarrhea or stomach problems.


On the trail, there are plant with a range of coefficient of conservatism (CC). CC is a range (0-10) used to classify plants based on the plant’s ecological tolerance. The following is just 8 of the plants I uncovered on the trail.

HIGH CC

Broad-leaved waterleaf – Hydrophyllum canadense — CC: 6

American Beech – Fagus grandifolia — CC: 7

Ohio Buckeye – Aesculus glabra — CC: 6

White Ash – Fraxinus Americana — CC:6

LOW CC

Golden Ragwort –  Senecio aureus — CC: 4

Sassafras – Sassafras abidium — CC: 3

Virginia Creeper – Parthenocissus quinquefolia — CC: 2

I did say we were coming back to this guy. Can you spot this five leafed vine?

Daisy fleabane – Erigeron annuus — CC: 0

 

Interpretive sign

So to learn more about the area, I look around for a sign and all I saw was this sign describing the two trails in the area, NOTHING ELSE.

So I wanted to educate the public a little more about the area they are hiking.