Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany

This is a picture of a sourwood (Oxydendrum arboretum). Sourwood is a small tree or large scrub that can grow up to 10-20 meters high. the leaves of this plant are alternately arranged with serrated edges. This scrub prefers growing in areas where there is a lot of unfiltered sun. It grows oval shaped fruit that grows blooms from June to July. This plant is also used to make honey.

This plant is called the spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculate) and it is native to  eastern North America and Central America. The leaves of this plant are toothed and have a vivid with vein running down its center. The flowers that these plants produces have petals that grow in 5’s and is an umbel. The color of the flower is white and can sometimes turn pink. The fruit that is produced by this plant can be found in a round capsule.

Four plants that were considered acid loving plants that we found on our field trip was the eastern hemlock, the quakess montana (chestnut oak), the low bush blueberry bush, and the sourwood scrub. In Deep Woods, these plants were found in an acid low-nutrient substate. In Batelle Darby Metro Park and Cedar Bog which is not the western side of Ohio, the soil is more rich, more moist, and less acidic. Since these places are closer to the margins of sandstone, the area contains a greater amount of clay and lime.

After reading  American Journal of Botany article “Unraveling the origin of Appalachian Gametophytes” ” (Pinson and Schuettpelz, 2016), I noticed that the publishers said that the Appalachian gametophyte occurs in southeastern West Virginia, but in reality, there are some that have been spotted in eastern Ohio. Although we saw many plants that thrived in acidic conditions like the hemlock eastern and the chestnut oak, most of the soil in the Deep Woods was rich with nutrients. One of our guides said that they were experiencing a bit of a dry season, much of the souls was still moist and and prime for Appalachian Gametophytes to grow.

Marsh, Prairie and Fen

The first place that we visited on on our second field trip was a considered a marsh that was along Darby Creek. When we arrived, many of the plants were dead. The ground around the plants was all dried up as well. In the marsh, forbs and sedges were scattered all throughout along with other monocots like wetland sycamore trees, cat tails, and boneseds.

Cattail (Typha)

The second place that we traveled to was a prairie. The prairie in  Battelle Darby Metro Park was coved with tall grassy plants and forms. Unlike the the marsh, this place looked well hydrated and there were many more plants that were still living. Living in this prairie was stiff golden rod, prairie dock, wild rye, and big bluestem.

Stiff golden rod (Solidago rigida)

The last place that we visited was the Cedar bog. The difference between a fen and a bog is that a bog is a wetland that filled with water and nutrients from precipitation. Since the water in a bog does not drain, plants begin to die making the water and soil very acidic.  Fens also cumulate water from precipitation, but not all of it. The other half comes from ground water that flows up throughout the wetland. A fen’s water can be flushed out but the bogs water does not go anywhere until it all evaporates. This fen that we visited house plants like wild hops, swamp thistle, poison sumac, and iron wood. Cedar bog also house calciphiles like the white cedar, tulip tree, hack berry, and red bud.

For my scavenger hunt assignment, I was assigned ashes. In my search I found a green ash and black ash. Green ash is native to the eastern and central North America. When it is young, the bark is smooth and gray but becomes thick and fissured when it begins to age. the leaves are pinnately compounded with 7 to 9 leaflets. The bark for this tree is used to make tool handles and flooring.

Green ash (fraxinus Pennsylvanica)

The black ash is is a medium sized deciduous tree. In young trees, the bark is thick, gray and corky, but just like the green ash as it ages, the bark becomes scaly and fissured. the leaves of this tree are opposite and pinnately compounded. The flowers are produced in the spring time just before the leaves in panicles that are loose. An interesting fact about the black ash is that its bark can be used for tonic for medicine for the liver and stomach.

Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra)