Section 1: Substrate-associated Plants

  1. Royal fern – (Osmunda regalis) is a species of deciduous fern. The name comes from it being one of the largest and most imposing European ferns. It is native to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The leaves are broad and bi-pinnate (7-9)pinnae with each pinnae having 7-13 pairs of pinnules. These ferns produce sterile and fertile fronds which are the leaves of the ferns. The sterile fronds are erect and shorter. Two to three pairs of sterile pinnae are usually at the base of while 7-14 pairs of fertile pinnae are above.  Osmunda plants should be planted in preferably acidic moist soil it associates well with other large moisture loving plants.  This one wasn’t mentioned by Jane Forsythe in her article but appears to be a plant that also prefers acidity. .
  2. Chestnut oak ( Quercus montana ) species of the white oak group native to the eastern United States. Sometimes called rock oak because of its presence in Montana. The chestnut oak leaves are alternate, broad and lobed with rounded lobes on each margin, thick and firm with a dark yellow green color. They are almost identical to the chinquapin oak but can differentiate them by the bark. The bark of the chestnut oak has huge ridges and is dark gray to brownish. The chinquapin oak is light ash gray and somewhat peels. The acorns of the chestnut oak are long and broad and are  amongst the largest of native American oaks surpassed only by the bur oak. These acorns can be eaten by humans but may be bitter because they have high tannins in them, however they are a valuable wildlife food source .


  1. Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboretum) Sourwood is a small tree or large shrub its leaves are alternate , broad , oval shaped with serrated margins . The leaves are dark green but turn  red in fall. The bark is gray with a tinge of red , has deep furrows and is scaly. The sourwood tree prefers acidic ,moist, sandy, and well drained clay soils. The Sourwood has no related species . The name comes from the sour taste of the leaves from when people use it as a tea, specifically mountain climbers . Better known the delicious honey it produces from bee interaction.


  1. Eastern hemlock – (Tsuga canadensis) Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is a coniferous tree native to eastern north America. Eastern Hemlock grows well in shaded areas and can have a long life span. It is generally confined to areas with highland climates. The leaves are flattened, scaly and two ranked, the bottom of the leaves are green, glaucous with clearly visible stomatal bands. The top of the leaf is shiny yellow green. The wood is soft and coarse grained with light bluff color. The lumber is used for general construction because of its unusual power of holding spikes. This species is currently threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid which is a sap sucking bug that was introduced from east Asia to the US in 1924. Almost all the eastern hemlocks in the southern Appalachian Mountains have had infestations of the insect with thousands of trees dying within the last few years. Attempts to save them have been going on the “Tsuga search” funded by the Great Smoky mountains national park are trying to save the largest and tallest remaining eastern hemlocks in the park.  Finding a natural predator for the sap sucking bug would be a possible alleviation that way it decreases their population and alleviates the stress they cause to the trees. This tree prefers acidic to neutral with nutrient rich , moist , well-drained soil.


Section 2: Biotic Threats to Forest Health

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

A huge deciduous tree belonging to the beech family. Grew in North East America.The species was decimated by  a contagious and deadly parasitic fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica. it was thought that it was brought about from the trees being brought from East Asia. By the first half of the 20th century approximately 3-4 billion American Chestnut trees were killed. It has leaves that are alternate,  oblong, and with many narrow  teeth margin. The leaves are also leathery in texture. In its youth the bark of this chestnut is brown, as it matures it turns gray. The American Chestnut Cooperators Foundation breeds the American Chestnut that exhibit some natural resistance to the blight that decimated its species. The Cryphonectria parasitica fungus would enter through wounds on susceptible trees and grow in and beneath the bark, eventually killing the cambium all the way round the twig, branch or trunk.

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Butternut ( Julgans cinerea)

Butternut is also known as white walnut and is native to the eastern US. This tree is deciduous and tall , grows slowly and usually lives around  75 years . The leaves are alternate in arrangement and pinnately compound. Each having 11-17 leaflets. The lumber is light in weight and since polish absorbs well it is a favorite among woodworkers. The nut of the Butternut tree is shaped like a lemon, they come in bunches of 2-6. The most serious decline in the butternut tree species is the butternut canker fungus. The peril of the Butter nut started with the Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum (Sc-j) fungus. The disease first entered the US around the beginning of the 20th century when it was imported on some Japanese walnut. The onset of symptoms included the branches dying as well as the stems. Cankers would develop on the branches and the spores would then spread by rainwater. The trees typically died within several years. It is predicted to have eliminated the tree completely from North and South Carolina . The hybrid with the Japanese walnut tree has created resistance to the diseases and researchers are trying to select for resistance to the disease. Butternuts are edible and were used by Native Americans and used for oil .

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Section 3: Appalachian Gametophyte

Appalachian Gametophyte (Vittaria appalachiana): What makes this species remarkable is that it is a vegetatively reproducing gametophyte, and a fern. Most other ferns exist in the sporophyte phase. Since these gemmae are quite large, they are not suitable for long distance wind dispersal.The possible agents of short distance dispersal are wind, water, and animal interactions. Kilmer and Young (1995) state that slugs have aided in dispersement.

The hypothesis that dispersal is limited is supported by the fact that this species is not present in the Northern region. further evidence is that this species developed after its introduction of the species in this area. From reading the assigned reading it has been determined that this species most likely has a tropical sporophyte because of the range of dispersement being high only in Ohio. The most likely explanation is asexual reproduction.

Section 4: Miscellaneous Other Observations

Maiden hair fern (Adiantum aleuticum ) are distinct in appearance as  they often have dark black stripes down the middle with bright green cut pinnate leaf tissues . The name comes from the Greek language meaning “not wetting ‘ describing the ability of the fronds to shed water without being wet.

Sassafras (Sassafrass albidum )– these trees grow tall with smooth slender orange brown or yellow bark . The leaves are interesting as they can have three distinct leaf shapes on the same plant unlobed oval, bilobed or trilobed. The leaves hardly ever have five lobes . When you crush the leaves they release a citrusy like scent . The largest sassafras tree is in Owensboro , Kentucky growing in at 100 feet tall and 21 feet in circumference .

Polytrichum –   A genus of mosses also called hair moss or hair carp moss .It gets its name because of the hairs that cover the calyptra where each spore case is held. This moss doesn’t grow tall and is very dark green, and has an average life span of 3-5 years.  A characteristic of Polytrichum is that it has parallel photosynthetic lamellae on the upper surface of its leaves , other mosses don’t .

American Beech – (Fagus grandifolia) is native to the eastern part of the US . It is a deciduous tree that is tall with silver gray bark. The leaves are dark green, simple and with a small toothed point that end at each vein . The buds of these trees are distinct because they are long and slender. These trees are important in forestry as their wood is hard a difficult to cut it is not heavy wood but rots very easy. However it is used for a variety of things such as bentwood furniture and long burning firewood .