Marsh // Prairie // Fen

 

Marsh

The marsh was a flat, wet area characterized by various tall herbaceous plants and few trees or shrubs. Sycamore was the primary tree species. Two shrub species we encountered were Willows and Eastern Cottonwood. Among the many herbaceous plants were various grasses as well as Wool Sedge. Cattail was an invasive species that had established quite well in the area.

American pilewort in fruit


Prairie

The prairie seemed pretty similar the the marsh, except the soil was much drier and large woody plants were more present. One tree we pointed out was a massive Burr Oak. Though there were shrubs, Dr. Klips didn’t comment on any of them in particular. Among the herbaceous plants were Milkweed, Pasture Thistle, and Big Bluestem. No invasive species were noted.

Milkweed with accompanying milkweed bugs


Fen

The Fen known as Cedar Bog has a pretty interesting hydrology. Though the area is referred to as a bog, this hydrology is what makes it more accurately classified as a fen. The difference between the two is that while bog’s “clog,” fens “flush.” This means that water flows into a bog as rain, but does not flow out. Rather the water is outlet primarily by evaporation. As the water is still, dead plant material accumulates into peat and stains the water brown, increasing its acidity. By contrast, a fen is supplied by groundwater in addition to rain and drains by small streams. This means that the water stays clear and fresh. Dissolved limestone in the groundwater keeps the water alkaline. As a result of these difference, bogs are typified by growth of mosses like sphagnum moss and fens are typified by the growth of sedges

Scavenger Hunt: Two Plants with Sticking Fruits

Plant 1: Devil’s Beggarticks

Scientific name

Common name

Characteristic traits

Fact

Bidens frondosa

devil’s beggarticks

non-showy golden head of clustered flowers, often lacking ray florets, fruit is a triangular burr with two prongs

have become and invasive weed in New Zealand; some moth species specialize upon this genus

Fruit 2: Long-Fruited Snakeroot

Scientific name

Common name

Characteristic traits

Fact

Sanicula trifoliata

long-fruited snakeroot

fruit a small green burr held far out from plant, palmate compound trifoliate leaves

threatened in New Hampshire; endangered in New Jersey



Hocking Hills

 

Geological Comparison

 Deep Woods is marked by some of the features mentioned in Jane Forsyth’s article “Geobotany.” One of the major geological features was that of a sandstone hill. Forsyth’s article mentions several plants likely to be seen in such locations, and sure enough we saw a few of them. The only such plant I got a picture of is the Sourwood tree pictured below. Plants native to the Deep Woods area are adapted for its unique geology. The porous sandstone hills result in hilltops that very dry and well drained but bases that are constantly moist, allowing for mosses like sword moss (Bryoxiphium norvegicum), of which I only got extremely blurry pictures. This is unlike Cedar Bog Fen, which is of a consistent elevation and hydration supplied by a constant spring and rainwater.

Sourwood

Scavenger Hunt – 3 Ferns

Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon fern, Osmunda cinnamomea, is a fern in the royal fern family Osmundaceae. It is dimorphic; pictured are only the sterile fronds as the fertile fronds are not present this time of year. Its sterile leaves are pinnatifid.

Cinnamon fern has been used by Native Americans as a food source as well as medicinal purposes.


Interrupted Fern

The interrupted fern, Osmunda claytoniana, is also in family Osmundaceae. Though it resembles cinnamon fern at first glance, interrupted fern’s fronds are heteromorphic, interrupted with a fertile portion amidst the rest of the sterile frond. If I didn’t know better (as I didn’t before this class), I would have assumed some extremely picky disease had blighted these middle portions, as they seem almost out of place on the frond. The interrupted fern is pinnate-pinnatifid.

Unlike its relative the cinnamon fern, the fiddleheads of the interrupted fern are inedible and may cause diarrhea. They were, however, used by the Iroquois for blood disorders and venereal diseases.


Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum pedatum, is in the Maidenhair Fern family Pteridaceae. Though it doesn’t initially look so, maidenhair ferns are thrice compound. The fronds are monomorphic, bearing sori hidden under the curled margins of the leaflets – a false indusium.

The genus name Adiantum comes from the fern’s ability to completely shed water even after submerged. “A-” comes from greek for “not, without” and “-diantum” from “to wet.”


Novel Feature

This groundpine was interesting to me for a few reasons. Firstly, I would have immediately assumed that this is some sort of low-growing gymnosperm. I wasn’t even quite sure what clubmosses were before this class, and hadn’t taken particular note of a living one until this field trip. Secondly, it was was interesting to hear that this used to be in the genus Lycopodium, as I actually use lycopodium spores in my research of pollen.