Highbanks is a state park of Columbus in between U.S Route 23 and State Route 315 with the Olentangy river running along it. This area is mostly woodlands and a few open parries with a bit of wetlands near the river and some parts with poor drainage. This park is very popular for its running/hiking trails along with it’s impressive ecology. Most of the woodlands has large hardwoods creating a canopy that blots out a good portion of the sun throughout the park provided plenty of shade on the trails during the day. The Big meadows area is full of flowering plants made up predominately of goldenrod and in the south end of the park is an over view of the river where you can some times see a bald eagle nesting. Highbanks has a vast ecology that lets you get a great view of Ohio’s botanical variety and abundance.

Highbanks metro park

Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)

Honeysuckle is an invasive species that has taken over and outcompeted many plants in the U.S. It often comes as a small tree or shrub and is found all over woodlands as it does well in shade just as much as full sun. Part of the reason it does so well is it’s early bloom and rapid growth, this allows it to prevent reforestation of native plants and outcompete them heavily.

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

American Pokeweed is a fairly poisonous plant as all of it is poisonous and shouldn’t even be touched. It is able to poison thorough touch by go to the bloodstream through the skin. Some people still boil the leaves for tea as this can dilute the poison although it is still dangerous.

Black willow (salix nigra)

Black willow’s are a fast growing tree and the wood can be somewhat brittle as a result of this. they have been used in furniture and in the past were made into charcoal that could be used in gunpowder.

Box Elder (Acer negudo)

Calico aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

Canadian honewort (Cryptoaenia canadensis)

Clearweed (Pilea pumila)

Common Blue violet (Viola sororia)

Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)

Garden Phlox (Phlox Paniculata)

Giant Ironweed (Veronia gigantea)

Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia)

Orange Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

The very first non-tree plant I saw at Highbanks, poison ivy has the saying “leaves of 3 let it be”. This is a great saying as urushiol oil in the leaves can cause irritation in human skin. Anther way to identify this annoying plant is by the hairy like vines that it has.

Riverbank grape (Vitis riparia)

This vine can grow extremely long and reach up to dozens of feet as it climbs around trees and the ground. These plants produce wild grapes that are in fact edible but, may taste a bit strange.

Small Flowered Leafcup (Polymnia canadensis)

Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

The tallest of the goldenrod family, it’s aptly named tall goldenrod has a couple uses as an anti-inflammatory. This plant may be used to help ease some skin conditions as well and may come in handy on a hike.

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)

Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia)


Highbanks Addition

Below is a list of native plants and their Coefficients of conservatism (CC) from Highbanks metro prak.

  1. American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) (1)
  2. Black willow (salix nigra) (2)
  3. Box Elder (Acer negudo) (3)
  4. Calico aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum) (2)
  5. Canadian honewort (Cryptoaenia canadensis) (3)
  6. Clearweed (Pilea pumila) (0)
  7. Common Blue violet (Viola sororia) (1)
  8. Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) (6)
  9. Garden Phlox (Phlox Paniculata) (2)
  10. Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) (3)
  11. Orange Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) (2)
  12. Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) (1)
  13. Riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) (3)
  14. Small Flowered Leafcup (Polymnia canadensis) (5)
  15. Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima) (2)
  16. Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) (2)
  17. White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) (3)
  18. Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) (5)
  19. Pennsylvania smartweed (Persicaria pensylvanica) (0)
  20. Great Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) (3)
  21. White ash (Fraxinus americana) (6)
  22. Allegheny blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) (1)
  23. Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) (6)
  24. Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) (5)
  25. Queen annes lace (Daucus carota) (0)

FQAI of Highbanks metro park is 12.8. That is a pretty low figure as most of the plant species found were very common to Ohio or invasive plants that are overly abundant. The range of FQAI 0-19 indicates that this is a low vegetation environment that is disturbed and may be in need of intervention.

4 High CC plants

White ash (Fraxinus americana)

The white ash has a high CC as it was a very common tree species before its population was devastated by emerald ash bore that wept through and killed most of the trees. The tree is identifiable by the leaves that are opposite compound ranging from 5-9 with toothed leaves. The fruits are samaras that persist longer into winter than other fruits.

Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)

Most distinguishable for it’s shaggy bark and in addition its leaves that are simple, compound, and serrated. The tree has edible fruits and it’s wood is used for cooking making it more scarce.

Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)

The cup plant can be identified by its large composite yellow flowers and its leaves are joined at the stem where it can hold water in a cup. This plant can be on the taller side as it is often taller than 3 feet.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) (5)

Flowering dogwood can be identified by its opposite leaves with flowers that show up early spring in the canopy. The leaves also have a cool trick where if you pull them in half the vascular tissue remains connected.

4 Low CC plants

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

American pokeweed can be identified by the reddish purple stems that hold the fruits which are black/dark purple. This medium sized plant is poisonous throughout and has been reported to make people seriously ill. Low CC as it is very common and often occurs next to trails and in openings.

Clearweed (Pilea pumila)

clear weed may be up to two feet tall with a stems that are smooth, glabrous, and translucent. this plant was used for alleviating itching and sinus problems in the past. it is very common and leads to its low CC as it occurs in disturbed areas.

Pennsylvania smartweed (Persicaria pensylvanica)

This plant is densely pact with straight stems containing bright pink flowers on sticky-haired stalks. May be used to alleviate bleeding in some cases. This plant is extremely common and occurs in disturbed areas frequently.

Queen annes lace (Daucus carota)

A medium sized plant that can reach up to 4 feet tall and has umbel white flower pattern. Also know as wild carrot as it is a member of Apiaceae that peaks with umbel making it hard to miss. very common robust plant that occurs in disturbed fields making it common.

4 Invasive plant species

Amur honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is an invasive small tree/shrub that is rapidly taken over the understory of woodlands as it is an incredibly fast grower over taking many native plants. Often has white flowers coming out in spring before many other plants giving it a head start. Introduced as an ornamental and for soil erosion prevention in 1896. This culminated in it becoming widespread where it causes great harm to ecosystems by developing thick understories where tree sprouts cant compete. Can be identified by its white flowers and red drupes that form on this dense shrub.

Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)

A now common wild plant first introduced in 1866 as ornamental roses. Then further incorporated as fencing for live stock in 1930’s led to plentiful spread of the species. grows quite rapidly and outcompetes many other species due to this and its larger size a shrub can block out some smaller vegetation. Can be identified by its white pinkish flowers and red drupes with small opposite leaves. Also contains thorns along its stem to prevent grazing.

Chinese bushclover (Lespedeza cuneata)

Plant introduced in the 1940’s for hay production and prevention of erosion. A member of Fabaceae where its distinct white legume flowers can give it away. A small to medium plant with small leaves shooting up stalk in alternate compound fashion. Often over takes meadows and prairies due to its fast reproduction.

Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

Autumn olive was found in Highbanks but forgot to get a picture so using an example from google. This shrub was introduced in 1830 as a way to prevent erosion and as an ornamental. A large problem is its early leafing as a deciduous plant and holds on to these late in the year as well, which shades out many of the species that are unlucky enough to be below it. Can be identified by its alternate leaves coming in ovals with pointed tips and silvery underside.

4 Substrate Associated Plants

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar maples tend to be found in the high-lime, clay-rich thick till plains of western Ohio. Sugar maple can be identified by opposite, simple, 5 lobed leaves.

Chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)

This tree is commonly found in the high-lime, clay-rich thick till plains of western Ohio. Leaves are alternate and simple. The tree tends to be one of the shortest of the oaks.

Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)

Limited to the high-lime, clay-rich thick till plains of western Ohio. Shagbark hickory has alternate leaves with its distinctive shaggy bark. Often used at BBQ’s for its smoking properties.

Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Red cedars are limited to the moist limey soil found commonly in western Ohio. Very resistant conifer tree that stays evergreen throughout the winter.