I will be examining plants with varying levels of conservatism in the Adena Brook area. I will be looking at Coefficients of Conservatism, a 0-10 scale that indicates the tolerance of environmental degradation a species can possess. Using these values, I can calculate a Floristic Quality Assessment Index which can provide metrics for the whole site, looking at multiple species.

poison ivy

Toxicodendron radicans

poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Leaflets of 3, let it be! This common woody forest vine is likely one of the most well known woody forest plants for one reason: it causes dermatitis. This plant is identifiable by its many hair-like aerial roots and its 3 distinct symmetrical leaflets with the outer two having a mitten-like shape. Some people seem to be immune to the oils this plant produces while others get a nasty rash. A common treatment of a poison ivy rash is crushed jewelweed, another common native forest plant. Poison ivy has a coefficient of conservatism of 1, a quite low value on this 0-10 scale.

riverbank grape

Vitis riparia

riverbank grape (Vitis riparia)

Another plant with a relatively low coefficient of conservatism value, riverbank grape has an index value of 3. This native climbing vine can be found quite commonly throughout the Columbus area. This is a long-lived vine who will scale even the largest of forest trees. It produces an edible fruit and is commonly used as rootstock in grafting other grape vines for cultivation.

American sycamore

Platanus occidentalis

American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

A plant with a fairly high coefficient of conservatism is American sycamore. This tree has an index value of 7. This is a celebrated native Ohio tree. Its distinctive bark and large leaves make it a common ornamental as well. It favors wet soils and can grow quite large and can live to be very old. The largest in the state (state champion tree) is over 11 feet in diameter!

bur oak

Quercus macrocarpa

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Another tree of high conservatism, bur oak has an index value of 6. This tree was found in a very fragmented area, filled to the brim with invasive honeysuckle. Although hard to see the bark of this specimen because it is covered in ivy, this tree exhibits lobed, simple leaves alternately arranged. The leaves feature one larger lobe toward the tip with smaller lobes protruding throughout the whole margin of the leaf. The leaves of this tree are also variable in shape, with some looking quite similar to those of Quercus alba. The species name of this tree macrocarpa signifies its fruits (shaggy-topped acorns) the be the largest- in fact, the largest fruit among all oak species. This tree is also the state tree if Illinois.

The Floristic Quality Assessment Index is calculated by taking the average coefficient of conservatism values of all speceis inventoried and multiply by the square root of the number of species inventoried. With 4 species inventories, this site’s average CC value is 4.25, making its FQAI value 8.5.





Braun, E. L. (1961). The woody plants of Ohio: Trees, shrubs and woody climbers, native, naturalized, and escaped.