Overview

This site is in Clintonville Ohio, right along a creek. The area has prominent outcrops of the Ohio Shale which form small cliffs as well as the majority of the creek bed. The area where you can pull of the road and walk around is quite small, but there are about 10mi of walking trails in the area.

Overlooking the creek area

Trees

One of the first trees I saw along the creek was this Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) tree. Identifiable by its large, entire, heart shaped leaved that are alternate and simple. The northern species more commonly found in Ohio than the southern species, has slimmer pods when in fruit, and they split open to release seeds. These trees have been cultivated for the usefulness in their wood for building things like fences and railroad ties. The wood resists rotting and the tree grows quite fast.

Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Another tree in the area was a Red Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). Identified by its opposite, serrated, and pinnately compound leaves, as well as its velvety twigs. Unfortunately, these trees are very susceptible to the Emerald Ash borer, and there are few wild Ash trees in Ohio nowadays.

Red Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

Flowers

I encountered two main plaints that were flowering at the time white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima), from the family Asteraceae, and blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), from the family Campanulaceae. The majority of the flowering plants in the area were the snakeroot which is identified by having flower parts in fives, opposite, serrate leaves, white flowers that grow into compound groups, and have many very long stamens. The lobelias were few but stood out against the white flowers with their cornflower blue color. These flowers are identified by their alternate, entire leaves, striking blue color, flower parts in fives with fused petals in two groups 2&3 and create a tube-like structure. The Lobelia siphilitica was once thought to be a cure for syphilis, however both of these flowers can be toxic to humans.

White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)

Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Shrubs/Woody Vines

First up we have a wild blackberry (Rubusallegheniensis) from the family Rosaecae! There wasn’t any fruit sadly, but you can see the thorns and alternate leaves which have 3-5 leaflets. The fruit is an aggregate of drupes which feeds many birds and other wildlife.

See the alternately branching leaflets of three and five, as well as the thorns

There was a lot of wintercreeper (Eunomyius fortune) ground cover in the area, as well as along the shale cliff and climbing trees. My best guess is that this spread from the many nearby residential areas, as it is very commonly used in gardens. They’re considered an invasive species, but they do attract many wild birds for nesting and for food. Identified by their opposite, glossy, slightly toothed leaves with lighter color veins.

 

Note the opposite leaves that appear glossy and the lighter colored veins

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), which is commonly mixed up with Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), is a vine that almost everyone is allergic to. Most kids have experienced a poor reaction to it after a fun day of playing in the woods. There are a few fun sayings for identifying and staying away from this plant such as: leaves (leaflets) of three, let them be; berries (drupes) of white, run in fright; and hairy vines, no friend of mine. These are all telling of its three-leaflets, white drupes and aerial vines (which have a hairy appearance). Additionally, in the spring the leaflets can have a red color or a mix of red and green. The Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is a similar looking vine and grows in similar conditions, they can often be found coexisting! The best way to distinguish the two is that poison ivy forms leaflets of three and the virginia creeper forms leaflets of five. Additionally, when in fruit the virginia creeper has dark colored fruit compared to the white fruit of poison ivy.

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)