The Lower Olentangy Ecosystem Restoration Project lies just west of Ohio Stadium and is home to an abundance of plant species! It is bordered by Olentangy River Road on the west and The Ohio State University campus on the east. It could be described as a dense grassland, as many of its plants are not woody and tend to grow on top of one another.
White Mulberry (Morus alba) is easily identified by its sandpaper-like, toothed leaves and its white paper bark.
Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata) is distinguishable from other members of the Ash family by its 4-lined twigs. The inner bark produces a dark blue dye!
Shrubs & Woody Vines:
Canada Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis) is one of the few hairless honeysuckles. Fun Fact: honeysuckle flowers and nectars are not poisonous, but these bright red berries will induce vomiting in humans! (source)
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) got its name by having red flower spikes that resemble the antlers of deer. Fun Fact: Its leaves and fruit can be boiled down to make black ink! (source)
Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora) is distinguishable by its slender, entire leaves that stay roughly the same size throughout the plant.
Purple-Stemmed Aster (Symphyotrichum puniceum) is easily identified by its bright red/purple stem and aster-like white flowers.
POISON IVY (Rhus radicans) can be found here as well!
Mealy Rosette Lichen (Physcia millegrana)
Although this foliose lichen is typically found on rocks or man-made stone, this sample of Mealy Rosette Lichen was found growing on the shaded side of a tall Maple tree. It is the most common foliose lichen found in Ohio!
Lemon Lichen (Physcia millegrana)
This foliose lichen was found on the opposite side of the same Maple tree, except it grew in the full sun. It is easily identifiable by its bright yellow appearance, and tiny foliage.
Four Species of High Coefficients of Conservatism (CC)
Veiny Pea (Lathyrus venosus) – CC of 8
This purple-flowered member of the Fabaceae family grows as a weedy, thin vine. Each flower has 2 small petals encasing the stigmas, and one larger hood-like petal. The roots of this plant have been used to treat convulsions and internal bleeding in the past (source).
American Sycamore (Planatus occidentalis) – CC of 7
Distinguishable by its “jigsaw bark”, sycamores have 5-lobed toothed leaves. Often regarded as one of the most massive trees in the Eastern United States. Sycamores can live to be anywhere between 150-600 years old! (source)
Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) – CC of 7
Low-lying plant with extremely large, egg-shaped leaves. These leaves give off a foul-smelling odor when crushed, hence its name. It grows most often on riverbanks and in swamps. This plant gives off a remarkable amount of heat and can bloom through frozen ground. (source)
Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) – CC of 5
Can grow between 3-5 feet tall and is light brown with yellow stamens and broad blue-green leaves. Thrives in tall prairies and can withstand flooding and repetitive burning. This species is favorite of grasshoppers for food and of birds for nesting material (source).
Four Species of Low Coefficients of Conservatism (CC)
Common Cattail (Typha latifolia) – CC of 1
These water-loving plants are extremely common, usually being referred to as invasive, and can grow up to 9 feet tall. Its leaves are often a gray or blue-ish green with the mature spike around 1″ in diameter. The rhizomes of a cattail contain more protein than rice and more starch than a potato! (source)
Common Pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana) – CC of 1
Common weed with dark purple/red shoots and pink flower racemes. It can grow up to 4′-10′ high and the roots & berries are often poisonous. It received its “pokeweed” name from a Native American word for ‘blood’, referring to the dark red dye that can be made from its berries (source)
Black Locust (Robinia pseudo-acacia) – CC of 0
Tree with pinnately-compound, egg-shaped leaves. White hairy buds bloom into white, aromatic flowers. This tree is thorny and produces fruits that are flat pods growing between 2″-6″ long. This species originated from the South-eastern Appalachian region, but has since spread all over the United States, becoming quite invasive (source)
New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) – CC of 2
A member of the aster family with heart-shaped leaves and a bristly stem. Flowers have pink or violet rays and have heads that are 1″-2″ wide. This plant is beloved by monarch butterflies and is typically somewhat resistant to frost (source).