PART 1: MARSHES, PRAIRIES AND FENS
The marsh we visited at Batelle Darby Creek was in the western area of Ohio and had calcareous soil. A marsh is a moist wetland without a lot of woody growth. The marsh we visited was dominated by mostly graminoids like grasses and sedges. This is typical of marshes. One of these graminoids was narrowleaf cattail (Typha angustifolia). This is an introduced species of cattail that you can tell apart from the native T. latifolia by the space between the unisexual staminate and pistillate flowers. T. latifolia does not have this space. These two species can hybridize to form Typha x glauca, a hybrid that is mostly sterile but can reproduce vigorously via vegetative reproduction. Check out a study on cattail hybridization in Ohio by OSU’s own Allison Snow here.
Woody plants in the Marsh area included trees that can tolerate a wet environment such as Cottonwood, Willows and Sycamores.
The prairie we visited at Battelle Darby Creek was similar to the marsh in that is was on calcareous soil and dominated by graminoids, namely Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), but the prairie was less wet than the marsh. The prairie had a few Asteraceae species, such as Stiff goldenrod (Solidago ridgida). We also saw False white indigo (Baptisia lactea). There was not much woody growth.
FEN/BOG THAT ISN’T A BOG
Our last stop, Cedar bog, is incorrectly named and is actually a fen. Bogs differ from fens in that they are acidic and they do not get their water drained, it leaves be evaporation. Bogs are also often covered in sphagnum moss mats. This moss dies and accumulates at the bottom creating peat. A fen has alkaline soil and is occasionally flooded and water is drained or “flushed” through underground aquifers. Cedar bog lies in the ancient Taeys River Valley. The Western part of Ohio was once covered in Glacial Ice which flattened the land as it moved southward and created moraines on either side of Cedar Bog. These allow water from rain to runoff into Cedar bog and are another source of water which floods the fen periodically. Another feature of cedar bog is its unique plant communities. You can find Northern boreal, Prairie, and fen plant communities here.
Woody species we saw here include Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra), and eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis). Herbaceous plants included a few carnivorous plants, Bladderwort (Utricularia sp.) and Roundleaf Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia.), as well as some pretty wetland loving plants like White turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia glauca), and Swamp lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata). Interestingly, Swamp lousewort is a hemiparasite on roots of grasses and asters, which we also saw nearby. Read more about Swamp Lousewort and its hosts here
PART 2: HOCKING HILLS
The hocking hills area of southeastern Ohio is different from the western areas of Ohio, such as cedar bog and Battelle Darby creek, in several ways. The primary substrate is acidic and sandstone rather than alkaline and limestone. It is also rather hilly whereas western Ohio is pretty flat. This is due to glaciation thousands of years ago which covered the western half of Ohio but did not extend to the Hocking Hills area. This makes the vegetation types in western and Eastern Ohio rather different. Jane Forsyth mentions several acid loving trees which we saw on our field trip to Deep Woods. We saw Chestnut oak (Quercus montana) and lots of Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), which I did not get pictures of. I did get a picture of sourwood (Oxydendron arboretum), which is a neat (if somewhat indistinct) tree in the blueberry family.
We did see some other neat tree species not mentioned by Forsyth which I was able to take pictures of. Two of these trees, American Elm (Ulmus americana) and American Chestnut (Castanea dentata), have notoriously been ravaged by fungal pathogens, both in the last century or so.
We also saw some other neat stuff, like lichens. Lichens have 3 main grown forms; crustose, fruiticose and foliose. They can grow on trees, rocks, or on the ground like Dixie reindeer lichen (Cladonia subtenuis), a pretty fruiticose lichen that we saw in an upland area at Deep Woods.
Here is another neat fruiticose lichen that looks a lot different but is in the same genus as the Dixie Reindeer Lichen. This one is known as Common Powderhorn (Cladonia coniocraea). Pretty neat. Here it is on an old log with some Thuidium
In the upland area we saw another lichen with eyelash looking hairs on their lobes. I am pretty sure this is Powdered Ruffle Lichen (Parmotrema hypotropum), if I have ID’ed it correctly. It is definitely a foliose lichen, which are so named because they kind of look superficially like leaves.
We saw the last type of lichen growth form, crustose, at the bottom of the hill in a somewhat swampy area. Crustose lichens are very flat and adherent to the surfaces on which they grow. This lichen was growing on a Green Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica) and is called Common Script Lichen (Graphis scripta). It gets both its scientific and its comon name from the fact that it looks like someone has scribbled on it.
We also saw some nice mosses, some of which we have learned about in field experience and are part of our 8 (*clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap*) 8 mosses to know! Hopefully you recognize which ones those are and remember the genera and not just the common names of these mosses.
We also saw a really neat moss called sword moss but all of my pictures of it turned out very blurry so I wont make you look at them. Another nice seedless nonvascular plant we saw was this nice thallose liverwort. Snakeskin Liverwort (Conocephalum salebrosum) lives on moist sandstone rocks.
Another really cool non-vascular plant we saw was the infamous Appalachian gametophyte (Vittaria appalachiana). This plant is interesting because unlike most ferns its dominant life stage is the haploid gametophyte stage and it does not go through a diploid sporophyte stage. How weird!
I also have to talk about the parasitic plants we saw because they are just the neatest things ever. First we saw Beechdrops (Epifagus virginiana) a root parasite and member of the broomrape family Orobancaceae. The family Orobancaceae is full of root parasites which may be hemiparasites or holoparasites depending on whether they are able to live on their own or need to parasitize the roots of other plants to survive. On our trip to cedar bog we saw another member of Orobancaceae, Swamp lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata), which I took a really blurry overexposed picture of. That plant parasitizes the roots of grasses and asters whereas beechdrops parasitize beech trees as their common and scientific name implies. “Epi” means “on” and “fagus” is the genus of beech trees. These plants have no leaves or chlorophyll so they cannot photosynthesize and rely entirely on their host plant for nutrients. If that isn’t super cool to you I don’t wanna be your friend.
Look at these gems! Another parasite, Indian pipes aka Ghost plant aka the neatest plant ever evolved (Monotropa uniflora). These are in the blueberry family (Ericaceae), a family which Forsythe noted are characteristic of acidic, sandstone habitats. For more information on these guys and lots of better pictures look at my page titled “Monotropa uniflora”
Hairy pinesap (Hypopitys lanuginosa) is currently going theough some taxonomic revision so depending on who you talk to they might refer to this as Hypopitys lanuginosa, Hypopitys monotropa, or Monotropa hypopitys. The name “Hypopitys” means “under pine”. These are closely related to Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) and like them are parasitic on mycorrhizal fungi.