Cedar Bog and Battelle Darby Metro Park
Recently, the OSU Ohio Plants class took a field trip to Battelle Darby Metro Park and Cedar Bog (which isn’t a bog, it’s a fen.) There, we learned a lot about plants that grow in certain regions, high CC value plants, and so much more! Take a trip to Battelle Darby and Cedar Bog with me!
The geography of Ohio can be divided into two parts, western and eastern. The western part is underlain by limestone, a rock that is fairly nonresistant in the humid climate. The land is relatively flat due to millions of years of erosion. The eastern part is underlain by sandstone, a fairly resistant rock. Because of the properties of sandstone, as well as shale that is also prominent in the region, erosion has only really led to the carving out of deep valleys.
The original horizontal sequence of sedimentary rock strata 200 million years ago was limestone overlain by shale, which was overlain by sandstone. This strata was gently tilted to form a low arch before erosion began. This arch became a part of the Appalachian Mountains to the east. Most of the erosion of the limestone in western Ohio was caused by the Teays River about 200 million years ago. It flowed until about a million years ago when the Ice Age took over.
When the glaciers of the Pleistocene invaded a few hundred thousand years ago, they were greatly slowed by steep-sided sandstone hills of eastern Ohio, causing the glacial bound to be no further south than Canton. These glaciers left a deposition of sand, silt, clay, and boulders. We call this “glacial till.” In western Ohio, this till is rich in lime and clay while in eastern Ohio, it is much less rich in lime and clay.
Plants generally limited to limestone or limey substrates include redbud, red-cedar, fragrant sumac, hackberry, and chinquapin oak. Below are three of these plants I found at Battelle Darby!
In contrast, some plants thrive in a sandstone environment where the soul is more acidic and the ground is more dry. These plants, among others, include chestnut oak, sourwood (which I talk about on my TREES page!), hemlock , greenbrier, and smooth Solomon’s seal.
Sweet buckeye is a species that does not occur anywhere in the glacial boundary. It’s expected that these plants have issues repopulating due to the clayey, high-lime glacial tills. Hemlock is also present in unglaciated eastern Ohio. Unlike sweet buckeye, hemlock is restricted by continuously cool, moist environments. Rhododendron is a species that lives south of the glacial boundary. It’s expected its species was destroyed in the glacial region when the glaciers came through.
The plants we discussed earlier were in regards to Battelle Darby. We now move into the Cedar Bog portion of our night!
As stated earlier, Cedar Bog is actually a fen! In terms of a bathtub and a toilet, bogs clog like a bath tub and fens flush like a toilet! Easy way to remember, but what does that mean? Water reaches Cedar Bog fen from surface water runoff, groundwater, and deep groundwater. Much like a boat with a leak, the Cedar Bog fen is filled up by that leak! Cedar Bog also has a swamp forest. You travel through it by a boardwalk. On either side is a water-filled wonderland of plants, insects, and snakes.
I was tasked to find two plants in the Asteraceae family!
All of these Asteraceae can be identified by the class sunflower-ish look. Each of these “flowers” is actually an amalgamation of many flowers, with disk flowers in the middle and ray flowers surrounding the middle! Isn’t that neat! Take a close look next time you see a sunflower, you’ll see the many worlds that live in them! You can recognize a New York aster by it’s classic bright purple and yellow look. Sneezeweed is all yellow, has a very bulbous disk and rays that are a little more spread out and kind of look like little dull forks! Frost aster is white with a yellow disk. The ray flowers are relatively skinny and long. A fun fact about asters, in folklore, burning asters supposedly released a kind of perfume to repel evil spirits. New York asters have been thought to have many medicinal benefits. In Chinese medicine, it was thought to treat pain, fever, diarrhea, and weak skin. In Native American medicine, it was combined with bloodroot to make a laxative. Frost asters are currently used to protect soil from erosion and provides food for wildlife. This is because of its weedy nature.
We also found some especially conservative plants with fairly high CC values. First up we have fen grass of parnassus (Parnassia glauca) with a CC value of 10! Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) with a CC of 9! Next up is stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida) with a CC value of 8! And finally, roundleaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), a carnivorous plant, with a CC of 7!
That’s all I have for now! More pictures of the fen to be added later!