PART ONE: INTRODUCTION TO THE SITE
Delawanda Park (recently renamed to Kenny Park) is located along the Olentangy River at the west end of the Graceland Shopping Center in Columbus, Ohio. This park has well-maintained baseball/softball diamonds as well as a soccer field, but despite this and despite the fact that the park is in such close proximity to a shopping center, the woodlands area of the park appears relatively lush and untouched. There were a few people walking along the paths while I was trying to identify species, but even then the trails aren’t very large and the forest does not seem at all trampled or harmed by visitors. Also, this forest seemed relatively young, as most of the trees weren’t very large and the forest was TEEMING with insects, herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees–there wasn’t a bare patch anywhere along the forest floor. As you travel closer to the water the trees seem to get larger.
Delawanda Park is located in Central Ohio/Columbus Ohio. It’s just a few miles north of Ohio State’s campus.
Kenney/Delawanda Park contains a wide variety of plant species. One new tree species I saw was the Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), in the Simaroubaceae family.
Tree-of-heaven is a rapidly-growing deciduous tree native to both northeast and central China, as well as Taiwan. Some fun (or not-so-fun) facts about this tree is that it is actually an invasive species! The Tree-of-Heaven was first introduced into the US in the Philadelphia area in 1784. It was also widely planted in Baltimore area and Washington, D.C. From these areas, the Tree-of-Heaven has spread and become a common invasive plant in urban, agricultural, and forested areas, such as Delawanda/Kenney Park!
Another fact about the Tree-of-Heaven is that the Spotted Lanternfly, an invasive pest, is particularly attracted to this tree! The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is a new invasive insect that has spread throughout southeastern Pennsylvania since its discovery in 2014. The Spotted Lanternfly presents a significant threat to Pennsylvania agriculture, including the grape, tree-fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively are worth nearly $18 billion to the state’s economy. This is quite a problem! Thus, the Tree-of-Heaven is not only harmful just for being invasive, but also for providing a habitat for this harmful species of lanternfly.
One shrub that I found at my survey site is the Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), which belongs to the Rosaceae family!
Similar to the Tree-of-Heaven, the Multiflora rose is also an invasive, non-native species. The Multiflora rose was introduced to the United States from Japan in 1866. Beginning in the 1930s, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service promoted it for use in erosion control and livestock fencing. Recognition of its tenacious and unstoppable growth habitat came too late, and it is now considered a noxious weed in many states! This is very unfortunate, especially since this shrub is really lovely.
Some interesting facts about this invasive plant is that a single plant may produce a million seeds per year, which may remain viable in the soil for up to 20 years! The hips are readily eaten by birds, which are the primary seed dispersers. The Multiflora rose is particularly threatening to native species as it forms impenetrable thickets that exclude native plant species. Also, its occasional habit of climbing can weigh down trees, making them susceptible to breakage.
Among the many plants of Kenney/Delawanda Park, I also found two members of the plant families that we’ve learned about in class!
From the fabulous Fabaceae family, I found the wildflower White Clover (Trifolium repens).
And from the Apiaceae family, I was able to locate and identify Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) at my survey site!This plant’s umbel flower arrangement is indicative of the Apiaceae family.
Cow Parsley is a really cool, really large plant native throughout much of North America. Some fun facts about Cow Parsnip is that the broad flower heads attract many insects, bees, butterflies, and/or birds, making it an ecologically important plant. Also, Heracleum lanatum can cause an itchy rash similar to Poison Oak in some people. It contains a phototoxin, furanocoumarin, and can cause a reaction in humans if skin comes in contact with the plant, followed by exposure to sunlight.
Cow Parsley is also edible by humans. Indigenous North Americans have had a variety of uses for cow parsnip, often travelling long distances in the spring to find the succulent plant shoots. The young stems and leaf stalks were usually peeled and eaten raw. Before eaten, however, the potentially toxic outer skin must be removed.
Something important to keep in mind whenever doing field work is to be wary of potentially harmful plants, such as poison ivy.
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a plant of the Anacardiaceae family native to Asia and Eastern North America that is known for causing an itchy, sometimes painful rash, urushiol-induced contact dermatitis, in those who touch it and are allergic to it. Poison Ivy may take the form of a shrub, a climbing vine, or a trailing vine, but there are ways to identify it in order to stay safe.
Poison Ivy leaves are trifoliate with three almond-shaped leaflets, and often (but not always) notches in the leaves. Each leaflets has a few or no teeth along its edge, and the leaf surface is smooth. Leaflet whorls are alternate on the vine, and the plant has no thorns. The color of the leaves ranges from light green, to dark green, to bright red.
When in doubt, remember the adage “leaflets three, let it be!” and stay away!
PART TWO: FLOWERS AND FRUITS
During my surveying, I also spotted a few flowering a fruiting plants!
One wild plant in flower that I identified during my surveying of Kenney/Delawanda Park is the Great Waterleaf, aka the Appendaged Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum appendiculatum), of the family Boraginaceae.
This biennial plant is about 1-2.5’ tall, branching occasionally. The leaves are alternate, up to 6” long and 6” across. Stem leaves are palmately 5-7 lobed; they are longer than they are wide, dentate along their margins, and slightly hairy. Stem is also hairy.
Lavender flowers in close clusters. 5 regular parts, actinomorphic. Relative insertion of flower parts is hypogynous; syncarpous gynoecium.
I saw this plant on the edge of the trail in the forested area of the park.
In regards to inflorescence, the flowers of this plant are organized into cymes.
The fruit is a small, spherical capsule.
Another wildflower spotted during my surveying is Gill-Over-The-Ground (Glechoma hederacea), of the family Lamiaceae (the mint family).
In Gill-Over-the-Ground, flowers are 5-merous and zygomorphic, and the petals are fused (two-lipped). These plants have square stems and opposite leaves.
Hypogynous ovary, and syncarpous gynoecium. The ovary is deeply lobed.
I saw this plant in the field area of the park (not forested), although it was relatively close to the edge of the forest.
The inflorescence of the flowers of this plant is usually 3 short-stalked flowers in loose whorls from the leaf axils.
The fruit of Gill-Over-the-Ground, as is typical of the Lamiaceae family, is 4 nutlets, each containing one seed.
Kenney Park is also home to a wide variety of fruiting plants.
One type of fruit that I found at Kenney Park is an achene! An achene is a dry, indehiscent fruit, in which the seed is attached to the surrounding pericarp only at the base. A wild Dandelion plant (Taraxacum officinale) of the family Asteraceae was already fully in fruit. The many fruits of this plant all consist of an achene with an adherent calyx, to aid in dispersal.
As a member of the Asteraceae family, the Dandelion flower is actually a capitulum of many small, 5-merous, actinomorphic disk flowers with 5 fused stamens and a highly modified calyx, and zygomorphic ray flowers.
The ovary in these flowers is inferior, or epigynous. Syncarpous gynoecium.
I saw this plant in the middle of the field in Kenney/Delawanda Park. They were very numerous, especially in the area which was just field (not forested).
Another type of fruit that I saw in Kenney/Delawanda Park were drupes, a fruit that is fleshy and contains a single seed enclosed in a hard bony exocarp. I saw this fruit on a Common Hackberry tree (Celtis occidentalis), of the Cannabaceae family.
The Common Hackberry tree has male, female, and perfect flowers, all on the same tree. The female and perfect flowers develop into drupes, which are usually consumed in great quantities by birds.
Drupes are derived from a single carpel, so I think that the flowers are unicarpellate and the gynoecium is epigynous (I couldn’t find information on this online or in our books).
I saw this plant on the edge of the forested area of Kenney/Delawanda Park.
The inflorescence of this plant appears to be organized into racemes.
PART THREE: MOSSES AND LICHENS
Here are some mosses and a lichen species I found around my site/around campus!
The first is a species called Eurhynchium hians, of the Brachytheciacea family. This moss is a small mat forming moss with ovate leaves and an acute tip, and stem-leaf middle cells 24-50 microns long.This moss can be found on calcareous soil, or rocks in wet places or near streams. It is found mostly in the Southeastern and Midwestern parts of the United States, like Ohio!
I found this sample on the ground near my apartment.
A lichen that I saw and identified is Lemon Lichen, or Candelaria concolor.
Lemon lichen is a brightly colored lichen that is very common on bark in open areas. It is a foliose lichen, although sometimes the lobes are so small that it’s hard to tell without a lens, so it may initially appear crustose (as it kind of does in the picture).
I found this sample on a tree on campus!
I also found Broom Moss (Dicranum scoparium) by my survey site! This species of moss is in the Dicranaceae family. I was able to recognize it from a previous blog prompt I had during the Deep Woods field trip.
Broom moss is the most common species of the wind-blown moss species Dicranum. It is native to North America, and is distinguishable by its somewhat wind-swept appearance (it is also known by the name wind-swept moss).