Part 1: Marsh, Prairie and Fens


The marsh we visited had very wet soil, which provided a great ecosystem for sedges (herbaceous),  cattails (invasive), american sycamore saplings (woody), bidens (herbaceous), red clovers (herbaceous), smartweeds (herbaceous), and milkweed (herbaceous). The overall dominant plant type was herbaceous graminoids. Herbaceous graminods are grass-like plants, such as: sedges and cattails. Other dominant plant types are listed in parentheses in the preceding sentences.

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

The American Sycamore has fan-lobed leaves, with very prominent stipules. The leaves are toothed, and are not hairy underneath.

Milkweed (Asclepias sp.)

Spanish Needles (Bidens sp.)


Cattail (Typha sp.)

Woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus)

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)


The prairie we visited, at Battelle Darby Metro Park, was dominated by herbaceous plants and weeds. There were also a few trees, mainly Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa). The following plants are dominant herbaceous plants: stiff goldenrod, big blue stem, false white indigo, and virgin’s bower. The dominant woody plant was Bur oak and shrubby dogwood. The invasive plant was Canada thistle.

Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

The Canada Thistle is an invasive species that is characterized by its spiny, alternate leaves. The Canada thistle has a purple head, that grows in clusters.

Stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida)

The stiff goldenrod is characterized by its bright yellow flower clusters. The stiff goldenrod has basal leaves that are larger than its upper leaves. Also, its leaves are oval shaped and rough.

Shrubby Dogwood (Cornus sp.)

Big Blue Stem (Andropogon gerardi)


The dominant herbaceous plants of cedar bog were swamp thistle, coreopsis, and turtle head. The dominant weed was the carnivorous bladderwort. The invasive plant of cedar bog was the multiflora rose. The woody plants of Cedar bog were spice bush, northern white-cedar, and black ash.

Cedar Bog Hydrology: When it rains, water runs down the moraine and into the ground. The ground mainly consists of sand and gravel, with sparse areas of clay. There are other sources of water, such as the ancient Teays River. The Teays River was filled in by sand and gravel, leaving a deep source of ground water.

Bogs versus Fens: A bog retains water, similar to the way a plug retains water in a bathtub. Whereas a fen has streams that drain its water source. A bog’s water ecosystem consists of sphagnum moss with dead plants near the bottom. These dead plants create peat and cause the water to be very acidic and brown. On the other hand, a fen has groundwater that consists of dissolved limestone, which makes that water slightly alkaline and clear. From this, the main difference between bogs and fens is whether water is retained or drained, and water pH (acidic vs alkaline).

Is Cedar Bog misnamed? Yes, Cedar bog is actually a fen that drains its water rather than retaining it. Also, the water of cedar bog is alkaline, which is characteristic of a fen. If the water was acidic, then it would be a bog.

Geology’s ecological impact: Glaciers formed end moraines (glacial hills) when they encountered bedrock hills. These end moraines consist of mainly sand, limestone, and gravel. Water can move easily through these substrates, making Cedar Bog a great aquifer. This cold water reaches the surface at the lowest point of cedar bog, which allows Northern white cedar, and other plants to thrive here.

Great Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

The Great Lobelia is an irregular flower with alternative leaves that are slightly toothed. The bluish purple flowers are bell-shaped and have long stamens.

Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum)

Northern White-cedar “Arbor Vitae” (Thuja occidentalis)

Northern Prickly-Ash (Xanthoxylum americanum)


The Northern Prickly-Ash has pinnately compound leafs with thorns along its branches.


“Scavenger Hunt” assignment: Find two plants with entire leaves.

Common spice Bush (Lindera benzoin)

Description: The common spice bush has entire leaves that have a very strong scent. Its leaf arrangement is simple. The pith of the spice bush is not chambered, and has scaled buds. The fruits of the spice bush are red drupelets.

Fact: The common spice bush was used by Native American tribes, such as the Cherokee, to flavor deer meat.


Poison Sumac (Rhus vernix)

Description: Poison Sumac has feather-compound leaves with around 12 leaflets. The leaflets are all entire, and not toothed. The fruits, as seen in the background of the bottom image, are white drupelets.

Fact: Poison sumac’s irritant effect comes from the chemical urushiol.



Part 2: Hocking Hills

Comparison of Deep Woods and Cedar Bog: At our woodland site, we saw hills formed from sandstone. Whereas Cedar Bog, was generally flat. The major sedimentary type of Cedar Bog is limestone. The soil at our woodland site was dry, but the soil at Cedar Bog was moist or soggy. The soil pH at the woodland site was acidic, whereas Cedar Bog’s soil was limey. These differences are due to the fact that Cedar Bog is located in Western Ohio, while Hocking Hills is located in Eastern Ohio.

Plants found in Geobotany Article: The soil at Hawking Hills is very acidic, which influences the types of plants that can grow there. In comparison with the geobotany article, we documented sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) and chestnut oak (Quercus montana). There were plenty of other trees that grew here; however, those that exactly matched the species listed in the article were sourwood and chestnut.

Sandstone Cavern

Image of a cavern made of sandstone. Sword moss and various lichens were very prominent along the walls of the cavern.


Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana)

Description of Chestnut Oak: This chestnut oak sapling was found in an upland, acidic environment. Chestnut Oaks have wavy-edged leaves. Once this sapling grows taller, its alternate leaf arrangement will become more apparent.


Sourwood (Oxygendrum arboreum)

Description of Sourwood: This sourwood was found upland in an acidic soil. The sour wood has alternate, simple leaves. The leaves are very finely toothed, the twigs are hairless, and the bark of the tree is ridged.

Scavenger Hunt Assignment

Three growth forms of lichens (Crustose Lichens, Foliose Lichens, and Fruticose Lichens)

Source for lichens: Common Lichens of Ohio Field Guide (authors: Dr. Klips and Dr. Showman)

Zoned Dust Lichen (Lepraria neglecta)

Description: I found this Crustose Lichen on the granite wall that we passed near the water fall. This area was shaded, which is where these lichens are generally found.

How to distinguish it from other species: It lacks a warty thallus, and is typically zoned or found in patches (similar to the image above).

Biogeography Fact: Commonly found on granite rocks in shaded areas. Found in northeast and southern Ohio. Found in locations where sandstone is the prominent sedimentary rock.


Dixie Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia subtenuis)

Description: This fruticose lichen was the very first lichen we were exposed to. It was found in the open with direct sunlight. These lichens have numerous branched podetia.

How to distinguish it from other species: The dixie reindeer has a distinct color, and other reindeer lichens are rougher.

Biogeography Fact: Found in numerous locations, but mainly Southeastern US (Florida, Southern Michigan, New York).

Powdered Ruffle Lichen (Parmotrema hypotropum)

Description: This is a foliose lichen that is a greenish gray color. As you can see in the image, this lichen species tends to grow on trees. If you look closely, you can see very small black cilia.

How to distinguish it from other species: The powdered ruffle lichen is the only lichen to have a white zone underneath its lobe.

Biogeography Fact: Most common southeastern US species. Commonly grows on trees.


One additional distinctive botanical feature that was new to me: Appalachian Gametophyte

Appalachian Gametophyte (Vittaria appalachiana)

Description: The Appalachian gametophyte belongs to the fern genus. This plants is of particular interest because there have been no documented cases of mature sporophytes. This plant is also capable of reproducing asexually via gemmae. Most botanists suspected that Vittaria appalachiana resulted from the hybridization between Vittaria graminifolia and Vittaria lineata; however, research conducted by Pinson and Schuettpelz, suggests Vittaria appalachiana was not the product of hybridization, but rather came from the Vittaria graminifolia lineage.

Link to article: (


Other Plants Discovered at Hocking Hills:

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata)

The American Chestnut was sadly destroyed by the chestnut blight.

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum)

The cinnamon fern is a dimorphic fern

Northern Maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum)

American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Clubmoss (Lycopodium sp.)