“Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany”


Christmas Fern, or Polystichum acrostichoides, can be classified by its’ leathery, lance shaped fronds. It typically grows in a fountain-like formation to an average 2′ tall. The stocking shaped pinnae is the source of this ferns common name. This particular fern stays green for most of the year. http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=a710

Cinnamon Fern, or  Osmundastrum cinnamomeum, can grow up to 5′ tall and are pinnately compound. They have separate fertile fronds that bloom in early spring and quickly turn brown. The sterile fronds are large and stay green until fall. The nickname ‘cinnamon’ comes from the cinnamon colored fibers at the base of the frond. http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=i570


In eastern Ohio, the sandstone hills prevented glaciers from forming in this area during the last ice age, which ended around 12,000 years ago. This resulted in acidic soil that is difficult for a number of plants to take root in. The Teays River ran through Ohio for thousands of years, causing erosion to shape the land. These events caused Ohio soil to differ drastically on opposite side. The eastern half contains soil that is acidic, low-nutrient, well-aerated, and sandy. While on the western side, the soil is high in pH, poorly-aerated, high-nutrient, and full of lime. As Jane L. Forsyth describes in her article “Linking Geology and Botany…A New Approach“, this unique history that embodied Ohio allowed a specific ecosystem base for each side of Ohio. While exploring in the eastern are in Conkles Hollow, I found these four special plants that are able to survive with little amounts of water and nutrition but seem to thrive nonetheless.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus)

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboretum)

Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)

This area of eastern Ohio contains a specific fern, the Appalachian  Gametophyte. I didn’t have the pleasure of finding it on my own. However, it is known to grow on rocks, the sides of cliffs, and the opening of caves.

“Marsh, Prairie and Fen”

MARSH- Cedar Bogs’ marsh is a unique ecosystem containing open water, cattails, graminoid grasses, sedges, and a variety of small woody plants. A marsh is a low-lying habitat that remains waterlogged throughout the year and experiences times of higher tides. Often mistaken for a swamp, marshes are smaller and do not contain as large of plants as swamps do. Posted below is a dominant tree of the marsh area and two Asteraceae plants.

Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron Vernix)

Giant Ironweed

Vernonia gigantean contains many disk flowers per capitulum that have 5 long, tube-like petals that are fused. This species can grow anywhere from 1 to 3 feet high. There are 17 species of Ironweed ranging form eastern USA down to the territory of Puerto Rico. https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/vernonia_gigantea.shtml

Purple Stem Aster

Symphyotrichum puniceum contains clusters of flowers that have anywhere from 30-60 petals and multiple flowers per capitulum, a popular identifier of Asteraceae. These petals turn reddish with age and can be on the ray of pale blue to a violet blue. The fruit of this plant is a dry seed with a tuft of hair for mobility. https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/purple-stemmed-aster

PRAIRIE- Prairies are one of the more rare ecosystems in Ohio. The large, flat, open grassland in Cedar Bog is functioning due to the moderate rainfall and moderate temperatures. They are full of hardy, drought-resistant plants that may grow up to 8 feet tall. This prairie is full of tall grass, such as switch grass, Indian grass, and big blue stem grass.

Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida)

Wild carrot (Daucus carota)

Common milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca)

CEDAR BOG THAT ISNT A BOG- Cedar Bog is improperly named! It is actually considered a fen! A bog is a type of wetland that accumulates water and is heavily vegetated. This location is at the bottom of two moraines and has a constant flow of water moving through the soil. A bog would have no flow of water. In fact, the only way a bog loses water is due to evaporation. So where does the water flow from? Well, there is an aquafer just above the limestone layer of rock that flows upward to the fen. At first, one would probably step into the fen without realizing the water due to the dense vegetation.