Welcome to my journal on the plants of the Olentangy River Trail! The area in which I am performing my botanical survey is along the riverside as well as some forested parts that the river brushes up against. The site runs from the Lane Avenue Bridge to Tuttle Park. This will allow me to have access to a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers that call this area home. The soil along the river seemed to be loose and sandy, and all the plants have access to a large supply of water. As this area runs along a bike trail, I am also interested to see how the local flora are influenced and impacted by the humans and animals that meander through. I am excited to begin this journey and cannot wait to document and share what I find!
Aerial view of the area I will be surveying, staying on the side of the river closest to Tuttle Park.
This week the first two plants that I was able to identify were two new trees! The first tree that I found was a Black Locust, otherwise known as Robinia pseudoacacia. Little did I know, after doing some research on Black Locust’s they have a big historical significance. In an article by Wesley Greene for Live Science, I found that they were one of the primary trees used to help build the ships used by the navy in the War of 1812. Additionally, the timber from these trees allowed for the development of the Jamestown colony!
The second tree tree that was new to me that I was able to identify was an Eastern Cottonwood, which is also known as Populus deltoides. After doing some research on this tree, I found that it has many benefits to humans. Eastern Cottonwood’s have medicinal uses such as helping combat heartburn, in addition to the aspirin like compounds found within the bark.
Next stop in my trek, I was able to find and identify two new flowers! The first flower that I found was a Chicory, which is also know as Cichorium intybus. One interesting fact is the Chicory roots can be used to make a type of caffeine-free coffee!
The second flower that I was able to identify was the Woodland Sunflowers! This flower also goes by the name of Helianthus divaricatus. With the sunflower being one of my favorite types of flowers, even though it was difficult to key, I was excited to find it!
Next, I found two different types of shrubs along the trail. The first shrub that I had found was a False-Indigo bush. This is also know as Amorpha fruticosa. I found it interesting that this plant is toxic if eaten. It’s interesting to know that it is because this plant is very common in Ohio, and if I’m ever presented with the situation where I may need to harvest plants to eat from the forest, I now know where to stray away from.
The other shrub that identified was Bush Honeysuckle. This is also known as Diervilla lonicera. One fun fact about Bush Honeysuckle is that it can grow up to 80 feet high.
The last plant I found on this plant hunt was the dreaded Poison Ivy. This also is known by Toxicodendron radicans. Poison Ivy is known for its three leaves, with a glossy look to it. It can grow from a vine, a standing plant, or a bush. Though it definitely irritates my skin, I found it interesting that it does not cause the itchy rash on everyone! Some people are immune to this plants defenses, while others like myself are not.