Glen Echo Ravine is a local park located in Clintonville near The Ohio State University. According to the city of Columbus’s website, Glen Echo Ravine is 4.20 acres, with slopes that have recently been the effort of stabilization with native vegetation replanting. Glen Echo seems to be a fairly wet habitat, with a creek that runs through the bottom surrounded by sycamores and cottonwoods. The slopes have a lot of black oak, and there are a couple large white oaks. It’s unique for being a small, fairly old deciduous forest remnant surrounded by an urban matrix, and as such also functions as stopover habitat for numerous migratory birds in spring and fall. A map of Glen Echo Park and how it relates to Columbus can be seen below.
American pokeweed. Phylotacca americana. First fun fact? It’s purple! Pretty unreal, and a cool fruiting plant to find. As stated in lecture, it was apparently a good food source for Passenger Pigeons (RIP). For us though? TOXIC (without preparation). Do NOT munch pokeweed on your next hike. Civil war soldiers used to make ink and write letters with it, and it apparently shows promise for a number of medical compounds.
Common burdock, Arctium minor. This plant is invasive as hell. Seriously, just not great to have around here in the US. It is pretty neat, though. It’s fruits, seen in this image, are the inspiration for velcro! Anyone who’s bushwhacked through burdock could probably tell you that, though.
Poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. Ah, poison ivy. The classic. Leaves of three, stay away, or whatever the phrase says. It is rather pretty, turning a bright red in the fall. It’s vine is also very distinctive, super hairy unlike Virginia creeper which we’ll see later. It’s white berries are an important source of food for birds like the Myrtle (fine, Yellow-rumped) Warbler as they come back early, stay late, or even occasionally overwinter in Ohio. The rash is apparently pretty gnarly, although I wouldn’t know since I seem to be immune (for the time being–immunity can fade).
Black raspberry, Rubus occidentalis. That chalky purple white stem is a pretty good indicator that you’re looking at occidentalis and not allegheniensis shrub around here. A fun fact is that black raspberries are one of my absolute favorite fruits/trail snacks, and I would steal them from my neighbors yard nonstop as a kid. Until she got rid of the bushes. Mrs. Sauer, why???
Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia. One of our super nice native vines, and not likely to give anyone a crazy rash like poison ivy. Virginia creepers latin name refers to its 5 leaves, a distinctive feature. I think my favorite thing I learned while reading about it is there’s a species of moth so dependent on Virginia creeper that the moth takes its name from it. Virginia Creeper Sphinx Moth (Darapsa myron). Sick.
Swamp white oak, Quercus bicolor. Classic white oak rounded leaves, but way more blobby and with way different bark than Quercus alba. A pretty typical oak tree that prefers swampier environments, does well in disturbed or suburban areas, and lives a long time and gets pretty big. I think my favorite thing about this tree is what the arbor day website had to say about it–“It’s the kind of tree you plant for not only your enjoyment but for the benefit of generations to come.”
Tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Unlike the swamp white oak, which is cool and an all around stand up tree, the tree-of-heaven is anything but and HIGHLY invasive. It reproduces and grows incredibly quickly to outcompete native plants, and even releases a toxic substance around it into the soil that can further harm native plants. Yikes.