Cedar Bog, Prairie, and Fen

Tallgrass Prairies

A tallgrass prairie is a grassland that is made up of tall grasses and contains no or few woody plants. These areas are fire dependent and are composed of drought-resistant grasses and sedges. Along with the graminoids, there are forbs; also called wildflowers. Some species include big bluestem, Indian grass, Tall nodding rye, Prairie dock, and Sawtooth sunflower. Prairies are found at Oak Openings in Lucas County, Firelands in the Erie and Huron Counties, Sandusky Plains in the counties of Marion, Crawford, and Wyandot, Darby Plains in Madison Clark, Union, Fayette and Greene counties and Dry Hill Prairies in Adams and Scioto Counties.

Cedar Bog fen and swamp forest

Cedar bog is a fen that formed by the glaciers of Wisconsin 12,000 years ago. A fen is defined as a low and marshy or frequently flooded area. The land is both prairie and boreal and contains many rare species of both plants and animals. Due to the glacial hills, end moraines were formed which in turn caused a valley. This valley sits on top of a huge aquifer allowing northern species to grow by providing cold groundwater.

I was assigned the family of Apiaceae (the carrot, celery, or parsley family)! The most distinguishable feature of these plants is the compound umbel inflorescence type. Another feature of this family is the stem if usually hollow! They are alternate pinnately compound leaves and the plant produces oil through a resin canal making them useful for cooking.

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea)

Compound Umbel inflorescence

3 divided leaves

This species has yellow flowers and also has more than 5 finely toothed leaflets. Each flower has 5 petals, 5 sepals, and 5 stamens and the middle one of the compound umbel does not have a stalk. They occur in small groups in wet soils and prefers to be in the shade of trees. An interesting fact about this plant is that eating too much of it has been known to cause excess vomiting! Ew!


Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)

White compound umbel inflorescence

This species is found on roadsides, cultivated fields, along creekbeds and in waste areas. It is one of the deadliest plants in North America meaning that ingesting only a small amount can be fatal. In the first year of its life, it produces leaves in a basal rosette and then forms an upright flower during the second year. The leaves resemble those of parsley which are dissected. The stems and leaf stalks are different than the rest of the family because they are hairless and have spots. A plant that is often confused with hemlock is the wild carrot and the way you can determine between the two, is by noticing that the wild carrot’s stems and petioles are hairy.


Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany

I really enjoyed this field trip. It was definitely the most intense hike I have ever been on, but it was incredible having the forest to ourselves and get to be up close with the plants. An observation I made is that there were more ferns than I have ever seen in my life; it was beautiful. I was assigned the Rosaceae family.

This family is known for having 5 separate petals that extend off of the hypanthium. The leaves are alternately arranged and can have either simple or compound complexity. There are many stamens that are arranged in a spiral pattern.

Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)

Toothed leaves that have a pinnately compound arrangement

Multiple white flowers with radial symmetry

The multiflora rose is an invasive species that is native to China, Japan, and Korea. The branchlets have paired thorns, ovately shaped leaflets, and fuzzy stipules at the base. This plant produces a lot of seeds that have good viability.

A fun fact about this species is that in the 1930s, it was advertised to help prevent erosion by acting as a living fence. It has also been planted on the medians of highways to prevent glare!


Indian Strawberry (Duchesnea indica)

Five yellow petals with clusters of 3 toothed bracts

Indian strawberry is also referred to as mock strawberry due to its fruit looking very similar to strawberries. Although it looks delicious, it is tasteless. There is only one flower per stem and prefers wet soil. It also shows the flowers radial symmetry.

Some fun facts about this plant are that the leaves are edible and medicinal for something such as a fever. There are different opinions about where this plant came from. Some believe it is non-native, and some believe it is native.


Yellow Avens (Geum aleppicum)

Notice the large basil leaves

The petals seem to be missing!

Yellow avens have large basal leaves with smaller leaflets going up the branch. They are toothed and the larger leaves are lobed. They usually have five yellow petals that are radial in symmetry and their seeds are carried by animals due to the spikes! The stem is hairy and they like to be in wooded areas. If you zoom in, you can see the yellow stamens surrounding the green middle.

A fun fact about this species is that the root used to be used to protect ones house from the devil!


Plants at Darby Creek vs. Deep Woods
Darby Creek:
  • Redbud
  • Slippery Elm
  • Chinpaquin Oak
  • Snow Trillium
Deep Woods: Prefers acid sandstone
  • Hemlock
  • Chesnut Oak
  • Sourwood
  • Pink-ladies slipper


Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

This field trip was great! It was very helpful being out in the field and hands on! The following two plants are ones that can be identified by smell!

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

It was difficult to get a clear picture of the flower!

Notice the irregular course teeth!


Garlic Mustard is easily identifiable especially if you crush up a leaf and see if it smells of……. you guessed it! Garlic! This gets harder to do as the plant ages. It is found all across the United States and is originally from Europe. The leaves are heart-shaped with coarse teethed margins. The flowers have four sepals and four white petals in the shape of a cross. It has been labeled an invasive weed in many areas but, on the plus side, it has many health benefits!



Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)

Heart-shaped or kidney-shaped basal leaves

Brown/purple flowers that are hidden by the leaves


What does this plant smell like…..? Ginger!

Wild ginger is found in eastern North America and Manitoba south, not including Texas, Florida or Nebraska. The basal leaves are velvety and heart-shaped with prominent veins. These flowers usually cover the purple/brown flowers that reside close to the ground. They have 3 sepals and NO petals. This plant thrives in wet, well-drained soil that is either partially or completely shaded. The roots are rhizomes, meaning that they grow horizontally instead of vertically and are responsible for the slow spreading under non-coniferous trees.

Asarum canadense is very low to the ground enabling beetles to be the primary pollinator, but it can also be pollinated by flies and bees as well. The seeds are dispersed by ants (myrmecochory)! There is a fatty appendage called the elaiosome, which appears appetizing to the ant, encouraging them to carry the seed to their final destination.

This plants name is from the Greek word Asaron meaning hazelwort (common wild ginger in Europe) and the word canadense, meaning North America.

Native Americans used this plant to treat medical conditions such as poor digestion, swollen breasts, couch and colds, typhus, asthma and many more!!

Wild Ginger