Whetstone Park is a metro park that is located west of North High Street within Franklin park. It is situated along the Olentangy river trail and is home to a lot of biodiversity that represents Ohio Plants well. Whetstone park covers around 136 acres of land for active use of the park and a more passive use for trails and such. Along with the wonderful dioversity within Whetstone park there is a good amount of wildlife that I heard and saw within the park itself. Whetstone Park was originally a family farm in the early 1800’s it wasn’t until the the land was purchase by former Columbus mayor James A. Rhodes in 1944 when he converted it into a park for Victory Gardens during World War II. Victory Gardens are herb, vegetable and fruit gardens that were planted to help in the war efforts. It wasn’t until 1950 on Memorial day when the garden was renamed Whetstone park. Whetstone Park also has a community center which includes libraries and different athletic fields to serve the community. Along with all of these wonderful ascpets Whetstone Park also neighbors the Park of Roses which is a 13 acre rose garden that host 350 different rose species and over 11,000 roses total.
Watch out for Poison Ivy!
If you are going to be exploring the wonderful trails and parks in the great Ohio areas it is very important to be safe from anything that may be bad for people. I ran into a couple of things during this exploration that were potentially dangerous. The first one was a brown snake that I observed from a safe distance. I did not interact with this snake because my knowledge on snakes is very limited so you should not interact with snakes if you are not familiar with being safe with them. I wish I could help you more with that but what I can help you with is knowing how to identify and avoid Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) Poison Ivy is pretty easy to spot if you know what you are looking for. Poison Ivy has trifoliate leaflets and a red stalk. The leafs can be about 4 to 14 inches and will often have white drupes associated with them. An interesting fact about poison ivy is that the oily mixture that poison ivy secrets called Urushiol is only poisonous to humans and different animals rely on poison ivy for food. Below is a photo of poison ivy at Whetstone park to help you identify it.
Flowers and Inflorescences
Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
Ninebark is a pollinating flower that is native to central and eastern North America. Part of the roseaceae family it can be identified through its alternate leaves that are palmate with toothed leafs. They bloom in the late spring and early summer and often have white leafs that bloom. Many Native American tribes used this plant for medicinal purposes. Making tea from the inner bark was used for treating gonorrhea and tuberculosis.
Common Elder (S. canadensis)
Common Elder is a common shrub often found in the eastern half of the United States. This flowering shrub can be identified through its opposite leaflets of often 7. Unfortunately when I came across this plant I was not able to find any elderberries which is the fruit that comes off of this plant to showcase. Eating parts of this plant can be lethal due to the concentration of cyanogenic glycosides, and alkaloids. However, the elderberries that typically bloom in late June are often utilized to create jams, jellies, syrups and more!
Oxford Ragwort (Senecio squalidus)
Oxford Ragwort is a flowering plant that is part of the Asteraceae family. Easily identifable with it’s yellow color and it’s capitulum Oxford Ragwort was an excellent find on this adventure into the flora of Whetstone park. Oxford Ragwort is poisonous in large quantities to both humans and animals so you should be not means ingest this plant. It contains alkaloids that can cause irreversible liver failure. They often bloom from April until the winter time so they are often common to see during that time period.
Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Oxeye Daisy is a perrenial herb that is a member of the asteraceae family. They usually blooms from June to August so I was very suprised to see some already bloomed. Oxeye Daisy is native to Europe and has a rapidly spreading root system so they spread throughout areas fast. The problem with Oxeye Daisy is that it can establish itself quickly in uncultivated areas, and can quickly replace forage grasses. Because this weed is very aggressive it is categorized as a “noxious weed” and was able to make the Ohio Prohibited Noxious Weed List along with 20 other weeds.
Fruits of Woody Plants
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Eastern Redbud is a fruit bearing tree that usually blooms into beautiful pink flowers in April. This plant was identifiable from the alternating heart shaped leafs and the legume fruits that are around 2-3 inches long. These fruits often ripen in October and may even persist throughout the winter. George Washington often talked about the beauty of this tree and in 1937 it was chosen as the state tree of Oklahoma.
Black Mulberry (Molus Nigra)
Black Mulberry is a flowering plant that is native to western Asia. These fruits are very common in a lot of different food and drinks such as wine, fruit juice, tea, jam, or canned foods and the trees can grow up to 30-40 feet tall. It is said that the Romans brought mulberry trees to Britain when they invaded and they used the trees for medicinal purposes, using mulberry leaves to treat diseases of the mouth, trachea and lungs.
American Spikenard (Aralia racemosa L. )
American Spikenard is a plant that is native to the eastern half of the United States. It can be identified by its large clusters of fruit that turn purple in the autumn time along its alternating leaflet patterns. Native Americans would often use this plant for it’s medicinal purposes. They would often use it to treat tuberculosis, coughs, colds, sore , menstrual problems, kidney problems, and lung diseases. They would also use the root to help with burns, swelling, wounds, boils, sprained muscles, and broken bones.
Mosses and Lichens
There was quite an abundance of both Moss and Lichens at Whetstone Park. It was very fun observing them and learning about the environment around them.
Lemon Lichen (Candelaria concolor) and Smooth Axil-bristle Lichen (Myelochroa aurulenta)
I was fortunate enough to capture this image of two different lichen sharing a habitat together. Lemon Lichen is the yellow lichen that is sparse throughout the branch where this moss was taken. Usually no bigger than a fingernail this lichen grows in sunlight and mostly in Ohio. Both of the species of Candelaria are both found in Ohio.
The Smooth Axil-bristle lichen is the gray colored lichen that is distributed throughout the branch of the tree. Notice the groups of apothetica distributed throughout the lichen. The apothetica is used to release spores to pollinate around the environment.
Common Greenshield Lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata)
Common Greenshield Lichen has a distinct yellow-greenish color to it with rounded lobes that are very broad in shape. I was able to find this lichen on the weathered tree branch. This specific type of lichen does not grow on rocks. It prefers being in an open area with plenty of sunlight. An interesting fact about Common Greenshield lichen is that it is sensitive to air pollution that consi
st of sulfur dioxide. It is also one of the lichens utilized by hummingbirds to camouflage their nest.
Pincushion Moss (Leucobryum glaucum)
A native perennial evergreen that has an apocarpous growth habit. Pincushion moss tends to form dense cushions of plants from one half inch to 2 feet. They have a preference of growing in medium shade to partial sun in moist to dry-mesic conditions, This moss can live a long time and can tolerate dry conditions.As you can see from this photo this moss is sharing an ecosystem with the lemon lichen on the rock with another sort of lichen. This entire area is a thriving ecosystem where everyone depends on one another through a plethora of symbiotic relationships.
Bottlebrush Frost Lichen (Physconia detersa)
This lichen was found on a treebranch in the ligh shade. How I identified this lichen we
re the lobes that have frosted (pruinose) tips. If you look closely you can see the frosting on the lobes
of this lichen. This frosting consists primarily of calcium
Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)
Autumn Olive is a deciduous shrub that can grow 20 feet in height. The leaves are alternate and lance-shaped with smooth margins. Autumn Olive is an invasive species to Ohio plants. It was originally from East Asia and was introduced to the United States in 1830. It out competes and displaces native species and creates dense shade to interfere with natural plant succession and nutrient cycling
Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)
Amur Honeysuckle is an invasive deciduous shrub that can grow up to 15-20 feet. The plant was originally from China, Japan and Korea. It was introduced to the United States in 1898 through the New York botanical garden. The honeysuckle impedes reforestation and prevents the reestablishment of native plants. The honeysuckle does provide nutrition for birds and rodents in winter.
Oxford Ragwort (Senecio squalidus)
A nonnative invasive flowering perennial plant. This plant can grow between 1.5 feet and 3.3 feet. Originally from Mount Etna in Sicily it was introduced to Great Britain in the eighteenth century. Oxford Ragwort has been described as a sleeper weed that is defined as an invasive plant species with population sizes that have increased significantly for more than 50 years after becoming naturalized.
Privet (Ligustrum sinense)
Privet is an invasive evergreen ornamental shrub that grows up to 6 to 13 feet tall. It is originally from China, Taiwan and Vietnam. The plant is said to form thickets and produce toxic berries. The plant is also a fast grower and able to tolerant many things such as pollution, shade and poor soil. It requires a lot of maintenance to keep up with.
“Petersons Fields Guide to Trees and Shrubs” by George A Petrides, “Newcombs Wildflower Guide” by Lawrence Newcomb, “A Field Guide to Ferns and Their Related Families” by Boughton Cobb, “Common Lichens of Ohio Field Guide” by Dr. Robert Kilps and Dr. Ray Showman and Dr. Kilps wonderful instruction from out in the field throughout the semester.