South Chagrin Reservation

For my botanical survey site I chose to do South Chagrin Reserve up towards Cleveland  in north-eastern Ohio where I grew up. This is a large, beautiful natural area full of various interesting plant species. The trails in the forest are focused along the winding Chagrin river with hemlock lined streams and sandstone ledges,  cold water creeks and ravines. It is a very beautiful wooded area I always go running/hiking  through and I cant wait to discover all the beautiful plants within this area and grow an even greater appreciation for its beauty.

Map of South Chagrin Reservation!


Tree 1

This tree I found I identified to be a White oak tree, Quercus alba. This tree had alternating leaf arrangement with simple leaves that were bluntly lobed and had rounded edges. White oaks were often used in colonial times for ship building, barrel making and supporting timbers. Nowadays they are used for flooring, cabinets, furniture and railroad ties. They also provide shade and acorns for wildlife animals, such as squirrels, to feed on. (

Wooly Oak!

Tree 2

Tis next tree I found, I identified it to be a Hackberry tree, Ulmaceae Celtis. The leaves had an alternating arrangement and a simple composition, with serrated leaf edges and indication of little berry buds sprouting. Native Americans used this tree asa source of food, medical purposes and special ceremonies. This tree produces little pea sized  berries in which birds and animals feed off of and this tree relies on the animals to spread the seeds in order to reproduce. Its uses for us today include: firewood, inexpensive furniture, and is also used to prevent erosion and to minimize risk of flooding in certain areas. (

Hackberry tree


Vine 1

The first vine that I found and identified was the Riverbank grape, Vitis riparia. It has serrated margins and a reddish/ purple color to the vine. It also has little purple berries accompanying it behind the leaves pictured. The berries are sweet and edible and the vine can climb up to 75 feet by means of tendrils. (

Riverbank grape vine

Vine 2

The second vine I found along my journey I identified to be a Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia. It has a distinctive palmate arrangement of 5 leaflets and serrated margins differentiating it from the often confused with poison ivy plant with only 3 leaflets.BUT this plant is still toxic with its berries to humans because of the amount of oxalic acid in them and can also sometimes cause small rashes to sensitive skin, so children should still stay away! Yet birds are free to feast on the little berries and enjoy them!(

Virginia Creeper (Often mistaken for Poison- ivy)

Flowering plant 1

The first flowering plant I found was the Amur honeysuckle, Lonicera Maackii. With the distinctive white and yellow pretty flowers, it is native to western Asia, but is a highly invasive species and is aggressively invading northern America. It competes with native plants and blocks their sunlight and can aggressively grow-out and out compete many native plants. In late summer and early fall little red berries sprout and provide food to local animals. (

Invader alert! watch out native plants for the Amur honeysuckle!

Flowering plant 2

The next flowering plant I found was the Common fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus. Everyone has probably seen these they are very common and found all over in wooded areas. They have numerous white or yellow petals and are very pretty in my opinion even though they are very common.They are apocarpous with many many carpels and have an actinomorphic (regular) flower symmetry.

Common fleabane !!!



Poison Ivy eekkkk Watch out!!!

I found this along the trail in my site and some useful features to help identify Poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicals, from other plants mimicking it, is of course, the saying “Leaves of three, let them be”, poison ivy has the leaves  in sets of three and also the longer stem on the center  leaf is a helpful identifier. It also has non-symmetrical veining and sets of leaves and mitten shaped leaves with pointed ends.It can be found on the ground or some vines wrapping around the trunks of trees. Be careful!!!

Conservative coefficient level of Plants

The coefficient of conservatism is a numerical index on a scale of 0-10 and can help people better understand how the plant survives in the ecosystem and in different states of the ecosystem. The plants with a number from 0-5 are low CC, which indicates they are more tolerant to disturbances  in the ecosystem and are more widespread throughout a wide range. The plants with a number 6-10 are high CC  and have a lower tolerance for disturbances in their ecosystem and require stable conditions to thrive. Invaders such as the Amur honeysuckle, Lonicera Maackii do not get a cc number and are considered to be disturbances to many native plants as they compete with them.

High CC

Ohio Buckeye, Aesculus glabra. CC=6. While walking along the trails of the South Chagrin Reservation I came across the wonderful, but poisonous ( in its nuts) Buckeye with opposite leaf arrangement and palmately compound, with 5 leaflets.It is used to make many  pieces of furniture and also a popular wood for making prosthetic limbs.

Another high level CC I found was the Mockernut Hickory, Carya tomentosa with a CC=6. The leaves were large innately compound leaves that were hairy and soft. It has a long life span, sometimes reaching the age of 500 years old. It provides food for many wildlife animals through its nuts and is also is for its wood in many tools requiring high shock resistance.

Next with a high CC I found the Barren strawberry, Waldsteinia fragarioides with a CC=6.  This flower has a bright yellow color with 5 petals and multiple stamens. The name is misleading though because it just refers to the strawberry like foliage, but this flower does not actually produce an edible fruit.

Last higher CC I found was the American basswood tree, Tilia americana with a CC=6. This tree had alternating leave arrangement, simple leaf complexity and serrated leaf margin kind of in a heart shape. This tree is also commonly a home to honey bees and the seeds and twigs are eaten by wildlife. It has relatively soft wood so its commonly used for hand carving and the inner part of the bark is used to make rope for weaving baskets and such.

Low CC

For the first low CC I found was a black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, with a CC=0. This tree has compound leafs with many leaflets and also another characteristic is its thorns. This tree grows incredibly fast and is known to be an important source of nutrition for honeybees.

Another plant I found on my journey with a low CC was the dames violet, Hesperis matronalis, with a CC=0. This flower has 4 pretty bright purple petals and I saw many while on my hunt for flowers. The flower  has 6 stamens in two groups and these plants actually flower in their second year of life. These are one of my favorite wildflowers with their vibrant eye-catching color.

Another plant I found with a bit higher CC=3 but still considered low is  the Ash-leaf Maple tree, Acer negundo. This tree had alternating leaf arrangement, a simple leaf complexity and a lobed leaf margin. This tree was very important in the lives of Native Americans, they used it to make dishes, drums, teas and also for a main source of maple syrup.



Last of the low CC plants I found was the Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana with a CC=2.It has alternately arranged, simple leaves with pointed tips. The berries of this plant are quite beneficial to the human body, supplying vitamin C, improves immune system and boosts the functioning of our organs, nerves and thyroid hormones, but don’t eat too many berries and definitely do not eat the leaves!

Botanical Survey page interpretive sign Update

Sign I found online:

While looking through the internet, the only sign I could find about the South Chagrin Reserve was the one below. It does not do a good job at all describing the natural area, although I believe the purpose is more to inform people of the rules and location of certain parts of the park which it does well. It also includes info about an important historical sandstone rock everyone visits while hiking through the park  and the famous carving on it by Henry Church , but it doesn’t go into detail at all about the botany, geobotany or any nature really. It just gives a brief introduction to the sites with the pictures and map but doesn’t specify anything in depth about the natural components of this big beautiful metropark and I think it needs more detail including info about the nature throughout this layout of the reserve.

Sign with rules and history I found online

My Sign:

My sign on the other hand includes important facts about the valley surroundings created by erosion of base rock along the river and the sandstone base  of the chagrin river and the plants covering them. I also mention what landscapes are common to see while hiking through the trails of this reserve and the type of environment that these plants live in, which is acidic with a lack of nutrients in soil because of the sandstone base. I talk about the common plants to see while hiking through this reserve and added some pictures that can help visitors identify them. I think that it is important to talk about the geobotany of this reserve because that is what shapes the environment all around it and I think that people can get more out of their experience and learn to better appreciate their hiking if they actually have knowledge about what they are seeing around them. Personally learning all this new stuff about this area I always used to hike as a kid made me love hiking here and appreciate it infinitely more!!!!

A link to a more clear pdf version of my sign in case its hard to see here: Presentation (1)

My beautiful sign!!