My location was the banks near the Olentangy River. These sites have a variety of plants that make it an interesting site. There are large trees down to mosses and shrubs and while this does not sound that different from other sites, there are many plants that go down to the river(which, not every site has a river.)These plants were super exciting to see and to get a history on.

Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)

American sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis)

     The American sycamore is a large angiosperm tree that grows up to 100 feet. The tree has simple leaves that seem to be lobed.  The tree grows at a rate of 2 feet per year, which is pretty fast. These fast growing trees live typically for 200 years, but records have shown them to live for up to 500 or 600 years. These trees have been viable in history as their trunks were made into canoes by the native Americans.

Bird’s foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

    This little yellow flowering plant is a member of the legume family. The plants grow up to 24 inches and their flowers are seen in an umbel inflorescence. These flowering plants began in Europe and made their way over to the U.S.. They are invasive in western parts of the midwest due to their ability to cover vegetation, killing them. The bird’s foot trefoil is poisonous to plants, so don’t eat this legume member.

Late Boneset (Eupatorium serotinum)

    This white looking flowering plant is a member of the aster family. The late boneset has a corymb type of inflorescence. These plants bloom between September and November. (Lucky me for finding them in bloom.) The late boneset prefers wet and sandy environments which makes sense compared to where they were observed. The boneset plant is a medicinal plant which can be used to reduce fevers and treat constipation. The plant can also increase urine output and cause people to vomit which may be helpful in some cases but not others.


Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

The common buckthorn is a shrub that can grow up to six feet in height. The shrub has oval shaped leaves and is not compounded. The common buckthorn is considered to be an invasive species. (Once again this site seems to be an invasive species pool. ) As seen with other invasive species, this one creates dense thickets that inhibit life underneath. The name buckthorn comes from the thorns that present at the end of the twigs. Adding on to the defensive side of the shrub, the buckthorn is also toxic which stops animals from eating it. This allows for the shrub to grow more as the animals feed on other plants which gives this one more room to grow.

Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)



Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Everyone knows of a plant called poison ivy and that you get a rash and itchy, but do people know how to identify it? As a kid, I never knew, and honestly, it was very recent that I learned how to identify it. Poison ivy is a vine that attaches itself to trees and grows up the tree. The vine can also be on the ground. Poison ivy has 3 distinct compound leaves. There is a saying that goes with it, “Leaves of three, let it be.” The leaves are slightly toothed but have more of an entire margin. The vines that climb up the trees look like they have roots coming out of them, or many hairs. Hopefully these facts and ways to identify help to avoid messing with this nasty plant. (This isn’t cheesy, but they have helped me.)


Riverbank species and CC
  1. Roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii) – 3

  2. Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) – 3

  3. Northern red oak (Quercus rubra)- 6

  4. American pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana) – 1

  5. Clearweed (Pilea pumila) – 2

  6. Green foxtail (Setaria viridis) – 0

  7. Riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) – 3

  8. Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) – 5

  9. Climbing false buckwheat (Fallopia scandens)- 2

  10. American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) – 7

  11. Common burdock (Arctium minus)- 0

  12. Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense)- 0

  13. Green-headed coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) – 6

  14. Wild teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris) – 0

  15. Cutleaf teasel (Dipsacus laciniatus) – 0

  16. Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) – 0

  17. Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)- 3

  18. Chestnut oak (Quercus montana) – 7

  19. American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) – 5

  20. Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica) – 3

FQAI = 11.6

Highest CC Plants

American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) – 7

Chestnut oak (Quercus montana) – 7

The chestnut oak is a rarer plant in Columbus because it has a need for a higher acidity and moist soils. The tree was seen as the soil it was found in was near a riverbank which gave it the necessary water level.

Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) – 6

Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) – 5

Lowest CC Plants

Climbing false buckwheat (Fallopia scandens)- 2

The climbing false buckwheat is a plant that thrives in many environments. These environments include floodplains, woodland areas, ditches, and even riverbanks. (How convenient!)

Riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) – 3

Roughleaf dogwood (Cornus drummondii) – 3

Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoids) – 3

Invasive Plants

Common burdock (Arctium minus)- 0


Common burdock is an invasive plant native to Europe. The plant has entire simple leaves and thistle like flowers. The plant is completely edible, every part can be cooked or prepared. The hooks of the flowers attach to clothing or animal fur and allows the plant to be dispersed.

Creeping thistle (Cirsium arvense) – 0


The creeping thistle was brought to North America in the 1600s and originated in Europe and Asia. The plant grows up to four feet tall and has thistles that are purple and white while in bloom. The thistle creates dense thickets that don’t allow plants to grow underneath it.

Wild teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris)- 0


Wild teasel is another extremely invasive plant species. The wild teasel plant has two physical stages in its life cycle. The plant is a low growing rosette but then produces tall flowering stems. The plant can grow up to six and a half feet tall. The flowers look like large thistles and the stems of the plant have spines on them. These plants make dense thickets which suffocates other plant life underneath these thickets.

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum)- 0


Poison hemlock is a toxic and invasive plant. The plant’s symptoms show up relatively quickly and can damage the respiratory system. The plant has a white flowering inflorescence and can grow up to 10 feet tall.

Substrate Specific Plants
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)- Limestone


Chestnut oak (Quercus montana) – Sandstone
American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) – Limestone 
Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica) – Limestone


I do believe that the glacial boundary is true with the abundance of more limestone specific plants as Columbus is western of the glacial boundary. The singular sandstone based plant could be a random chance or due to the chance that the tree was planted for decoration nearby and spread. 

(Link to Photos, technological issues did not allow for uploading.)