Part 1: Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany

Ohio can be split into two regions, western and eastern. Geologically, there is limestone bedrock which is prone to breaking down, therefore resulting in the flat landscape we have today. The eastern region consist of sandstone bedrock, which is more resistant and the underlying strata of breakable shale overtime has created hills and valleys in this region. The formation has allowed to slow glacial movement in the eastern region of Ohio, but its flatness on the other region led the glacier to reach Northern Kentucky.

The limestone and sandstone differing permeability and glacial deposition of the two regions have greatly varied nutrition richness and acidity. The western limestone region tends to generally lack drainage, has low aeration and is nutrient rich. The eastern region tends to have high aeration, lower nutrient richness and is acidic. These characteristics can vary in regions where limestone and/or till are found in eastern sandstone regions from glacial movement and other factors that can vary the geo-botanical characteristics found in areas.

 

Due to being sick, I was not able to attend the private Deep Woods location and therefore was not introduced to the Appalachian Gametophyte, but was assigned to visit Conkle’s Hollow and find two oaks. However, I did find this pretty Broom moss!

Broom moss of the Dicranum genus!

Scavenger hunt!

White Oak, Quercus alba

          

This deciduous tree has bluntly smooth, lobed leaves with a lighter abaxial underside. The leaf is widest past the middle of the leaf. The tree is important in furniture use with its wood and bourbon due to its tylose in the xylem, allowing for a more impermeable state, which is more optimal in storage use!

Black Oak, Quercus velutina

 

Black oak and red oak are hard to distinguish between to me. These toothed and lobed leaves have bristled tipped that fruit acorns. The acorns that fall from the trees are a source of food to squirrels, deer and other animals in its ecosystem.

Acid-loving plants

1. Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana)

The Chestnut oak have decently wide and lobed leaves like white oaks, however, this tree has very shallow repeating lobes and sometimes toothed tips. Due to the underlying bedrock of sandstone in the area, there are areas with acidic soil and low nutrients. The Chestnut Oak can grow in this environment.

 

2.  Sourwood (Oxydendrum arborium)

The Sourwood tree has alternating, simple elongated oval- looking leaves. This tree produces drooping white flowers in June and July. The wood of the tree has been used for various things by Native Americans like as cooking tools and firewood (berheim.org).

3.Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

The Eastern Hemlock is thrives in acidic areas. The conifer has needle-like leaves that grow individually on the stem. Its needles are arranged spirally and on a single plane. Its needles are a dark green coloration.

4. Pitch pine (Pinus rigida)

 

This conifer has needle like leaves arranged in a bundle appearing formation. This pine produces cones with prickles on the scales.

Slight acidic finding!

5. Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

 

The tuliptree thrives in slight acidic conditions. Its large lewaves have a distinct symmetrical lobe shape with a large blade in the middle. It has been said to resemble the shape of a tulip flower.  Due to the rock formations, varying elevation and strata, there are many nutrient and drainage variations throughout the Hocking hills area. I found this tuliptree in the shade, at ground level by a small body of water at the entrance of Conkle’s Hollow.

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Marsh, Prairie and Fen

 

Darby Creek Marsh

We visited a type of wetland along Darby Creek Drive, called a marsh. The moist area is dense of grasses (Juncus) and herbaceous plants (Cat tail) and few woody plants, one shown below.

 

Woody plant: Easter Cottonwood, Populus deltoides                                                                                                                                        Cat tail

 

Battelle Darby Metro Park Prairie

This prairie located not far from the marsh, included plants of graminoids and woody plants of cottonwoods and Burr Oak at the borders of the prairie. A composition of grasses like Switchgrass and Indiangrass, sedges and rushes dominated the area.

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) filled the site

 

Cedar Bog

Cedar Bog is in fact considered a fen. The flow of water flows through limestone  bedrocks, creating waters not acidic. Fens have clear-like water flowing on the surface of the ground  and grows mainly sedges and Cedar Bog follows this drainage in parts of its existing area due to its low elevation caused by glacial activity. The sloped landscape gathers water in an area in which sits at Cedar Bogs. Because bogs have no efficient draining, the ground and water is very acidic and is low nutrient due to the still water that only leaves by evaporation, growing mainly Sphagnum mosses.

During this trip, I was assigned plants that make you itch!

One those plants is Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy) shown below. This plant can be distinguished by its low  height, three leaf formation, pointed leaves, and sometimes the left and right leaf having a lobed structure. These two leaves grow from the stem with the middle leaf being larger in sized. Sometimes the leaves may be toothed or smooth. According to Sciencehistory.org, this plant was used as medicine throughout 18 and 19 century due to its possibly to heal the body because of its strong effects.

Another plant is the Toxicodendron vernix (Poison sumac). This woody small tree was previously called and referred to as the Rhus vernix. The compound leaves on the plant are oppositely arranged, the tree has smoothed edged leaves, red colored stems branching, and its fruiting of drupes will look tightly arranged. According to Britannica.com, the tree contains a sap that is extremely irritating to the skin when in contact, causing contact dermatitis and inflammation for days.