This survey sight is located just Northwest of Ohio State’s Columbus campus, off of West Dodridge Street. Its coordinates are 40°01’11.9″N 83°01’07.6″W. It is an experimental site used for research that comprises 52 acres of urban wetland habitat, including two wetland basins, an oxbow wetland, an surrounding forest. Most of the grounds are open to the public, but some sections are fenced off to prevent any tampering with experimental sites.
Plant Diversity in the Wetlands
1. Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
2. Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
Pawpaws are the only fruit tree that is native to North America. Come fall, we will have fruits about the size of mangos to eat and cook!
1. Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)
Honeysuckle is a well-known invasive plant species in Ohio. It prevents the establishment of native plants because it develops leaves earlier than most other forest plants, thus preventing sunlight from reaching new plants attempting to grow.
2. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
1. Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Milkweed is an incredibly important plant for the Monarch butterfly species. They seek out milkweed to lay their eggs so that their larva can feed on the plant’s sap. When ingested, a toxic found in the sap help repels predators. Check out this awesome article about Monarch evolution: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-monarch-butterflies-evolved-to-eat-a-poisonous-plant/
2. White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)
White snakeroot has a toxin in its stems and leaves called tremetol. When ingested by cows it can be deadly, or the toxin can be passed to their milk and therefore to humans. Drinking milk from a cow that has ingested high amounts of white snakeroot can cause tremetol poisoning, also known as milk sickness.
And finally….. Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)!
Part Two: FQAI, Substrate Associated Plants of the Wetlands
Below is a list of 20 plants observed growing at the Olentangy Wetland Research Center, along with their coefficients of conservatism (CC’s). The list will include both native and non-native plant species.
- Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) (3)
- Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) (6)
- Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) (1)
- White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) (3)
- Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) (1)
- Box elder (Acer negundo) (3)
- Black walnut (Juglans nigra) (5)
- Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) (3)
- American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) (7)
- Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) (3)
- Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) (6)
- Red maple (Acer rubrum) (2)
- Common blue violet (Viola sororia) (1)
- Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana) (3)
- Black willow (Salix nigra) (2)
- Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)
- Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
- Catalpa (Catalpa spp.)
- Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
- Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana)
The FQAI score of the Olentangy Wetlands based on the listed native plants is 11.88. This would classify the wetlands as a highly disturbed area, which makes sense considering the amount of people who utilize the area. However, it is possible that the score could vary slightly with the addition of more plant species found on the site.
Four High CC Plants
Plants with a higher CC value are described as being “less tolerant”, meaning they occur in more specific environments. The following plants have the highest CC scores out of the twenty plants listed:
American sycamore (7)
The sycamore tree has been thought to symbolize strength, protection, eternity, and divinity. In Egypt, it is portrayed as representation of Egyptian goddesses in the book called “Book of the Dead”. It is likely that the sycamore has a higher CC value because they prefer deep, rich soil that is moist yet well-drained.
Pawpaws are the only native fruit tree in North America. They are highly valued by foragers and have importance in Indigenous communities across the eastern United States.
Northern red oak (6)
Northern red oak is frequently planted as an ornamental due to its bright red fall foliage. The wood from northern red oak trees is commonly used for hardwood lumber to make furniture, veneer, and cabinets.
Black walnut (5)
Walnut trees have been a popular source of food the world over for thousands of years. They were consumed by pre-historic men and women in Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as the indigenous peoples of North America.
Four Low CC Plants
Plants with a lower CC value are described as being “more tolerant”, meaning that they can occur in a wide range of habitats and are not very “picky” about where they grow. The following plants have the lowest CC scores out of the twenty plants listed:
Common blue violet (1)
Blue violet flowers are wonderful for dyeing with; my mom is a fabric designer and she has recently been incorporating natural dyes into her work. She loves collecting the violets that grow behind our house to print-dye with. These plants are able to reproduce via seed dispersal and via underground rhizomes, which may contribute to their ability to grow in many places and thus lowering their CC score.
The genus name of goldenrod, “Solidago“, originates from Latin word “solidare” which means “to make whole”. This refers to the fact that goldenrod has excellent potential to heal wounds.
Red maple (2)
Although red maples are very common in most forests across the eastern U.S., they are still highly susceptible to pests and diseases.
Black Willow (2)
The black willow was originally used by the ancient Greeks to treat stiff joints and other pains by drinking tea made from its leaves. Today, the components of modern aspirin are found in black willows.
The following plant found at the Olentangy Wetlands were listed by Forsyth in her geobotany article as lime-loving. The location of this site does indeed have limey soil, as well as being clay-rich.
While completing my survey I was unfortunately only able to find one substrate-associated plant as described by Forsyth. However, other plants that would be likely to be seen in limey substrates are blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), and redbud (Cercis canadensis).
Eastern red cedar
Red cedars have leaves that scale-like and pressed tightly against twigs. It also has small blue berries typical of junipers.
- Catalpa (Catalpa spp.)
2. Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
3. Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana)