The Eastern and Western portions of Ohio are divided along a line of differing geology. To the west, limestone and to the east sandstone. This difference is a result of the bedrock buckling upward when the Appalachian Mountains were formed. When the glaciers moved down on Ohio, they covered everything except the South Eastern portion of Ohio. The softer limestones to the west were easily eroded while the harder sandstones in the east resisted erosion. This gave rise to the ravine and hill topography and ornate sandstone formations in the east as melt water cut away at the rock. For vegetation, having either primarily sandstone or limestone as substrate has lead to different plant communities. In the East, acidic sandstone substrate chestnut oak, sourwood, hemlock, blueberry and bellwort among many others. In the West, the more basic limestone substrate is dominated by plants such as redbud, red-cedar, hackberry, chinquapin oak, nodding thistle, sedge, and snow trillium among many other species.

The photos below point out some of our botanical discoveries.

Above: Cinnamon fern frond and sporophyte.

Above: A club moss.

Above: A dogwood tree.

I was also tasked with finding five trees not covered in class. The ones I found are listed below.

Winged Sumac is distinguishable from other Sumacs by it winged stems along the leaflets. Native Americans would take the fruit of this tree and make a lemonade like beverage.

American Elm is distinguishable from other elm trees by its squishy cork-like bark. Native Americans used the wood of American Elm trees for rope and canoes as it was pliable and split resistant.

Eastern Hornbeam, also called Muscle Wood is distinguishable from other hornbeam species by its distinct sinew and muscle like bark. The tree’s leaves were once used to accelerate the healing of wounds and made into tonic for exhaustion.

Hazel can be distinguished from other trees in the Betulaceae family by it fruit, the hazelnut, and its double serrate leaf margins. This fruit of this tree is used to make the popular Nutella hazelnut spread.

Black Birch can be distinguished from other Birch trees by its long pointy bud and smooth dark grey bark. This tree has a wintergreen scent to it once a twig is broken.

The beech-drops Epifagus virginiana are a parasitic plant that inhabits Beech tree root systems. The drops grow from and are nutritionally dependent on the Beech tree roots. As the tree serves as the food source, Beech-drop plants do not produce any chloroplasts and do not photosynthesis.