Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)

Sourwood is a tree that was seen in the Hocking Hills. It is a tree that has many uses. The leaves are (as the names imply sour.) The leaves were also used to make tea. The sap of the sourwood was used in older days by the pioneers as a way to treat fevers and the bark was used for mouth pains by being chewed. The tea was also used for diarrhea, indigestion, and dysentery. The flowers and blossoms are used by bees to make a rare honey which adds to the usefulness of the plant.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Eastern hemlock is another tree that is specific to acidic sites. The tree has a lot of uses similar to the sourwood tree. The eastern hemlock was used to treat scurvy and was called the tree of life for a time. It was also used to alleviate digestion problems, diarrhea, and mouth and throat diseases. The tree eaten does not have evidence for these helpful uses, but the chemical tannis, which is created by the tree is helpful.

Chestnut oak (Quercus montana)

The chestnut oak is another tree that needs an acidic soil to grow well. Unlike other trees, the chestnut oak has no pests and disease problems that greatly harm the species. Similar to white oak, the acorns of the chestnut oak are very important to wildlife. The tree has the capability to grow around 100ft high. That seems very big in terms of height but hey, I’m only 6’5”.

Mountain Maple (Acer spicatum)

The mountain maple is a rather small tree, especially compared to the previously discussed chestnut oak. The mountain maple only grows up to about 35 feet. The bark stands out as it is maroon and has a yellowy-green foliage. The tree is important for stopping erosion in banks and steep slopes. The tree also has seeds which are samaras.


American Chestnut is a tree that is getting wiped out by blight. Cryphonectria parasitica or the Chestnut Blight is a fungus that grows on the inside of the tree’s bark. Chestnut blight was accidentally brought over to the United States from Asia and the first documented case was in 1904. Although blight was only introduced a little over a hundred years ago, it has managed to kill around 4 BILLION trees. This is outstanding to me that there have been that many killed in that relatively short of a time. While chestnut blight has had many recorded deaths, it can be stopped. A cure to stop blight is once a tree is infected, use mud packs to each canker and this will keep the blight from killing the tree. Another solution to chestnut blight is called hypovirulence and it means to infect the blight fungus with a virus that reduces the ability for the blight to harm the tree.

The butternut tree is another tree that is being wiped out in nature, this time, it is due to butternut cankers. These cankers are like the blight, and is a fungal disease. These cankers have killed about 80% of the butternut population. The butternut cankers were first reported in Wisconsin in 1967. To prevent the infection of butternut cankers, just look out for infected trees and make sure they do not infect your tree. Other than that, there is no cure and not much prevention that can take place. 

The fern Vittaria appalachiana is an interesting fern to say the least. The common name of Vittaria appalachiana is the Appalachian gametophyte. (I found it strange that we would name a fern a gametophyte too. Hold on, it gets better.) The Appalachian gametophyte is extraordinary because it never produces sporophytes as the name implies and produces only gametophytes. Fern gemmae are fairly large compared to spores. Due to the size difference, wind dispersal for long distances is not as likely as it is with spores. Instead gemmae are dispersed by water, animals, and short distances due to the wind. In 1995, a publication by Kimmerer and Young established that animal dispersal takes place by slugs. (Yes slugs.) While it does not seem like long distances, it still happens nonetheless. The limited distribution is due to the size of the gemmae and the limitation with dispersal. Evidence of the limited dispersal is found when a study was done that found a suitable environment for ferns and yet there was no sign of them to be there at all. It is however thought that the original dispersal of Appalachian gametophyte is due to sporophytes because of the abundance of it in New York compared to its eastern midwest abundance. This provides evidence that spores were used at some point because of how far apart the colonies are found.


Bluestem Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

I know what you are thinking, “Another goldenrod?” Yes, another goldenrod. This is a bluestem goldenrod which is in the aster family. A not so fun fact about bluestem and all goldenrods is that they are a cause for Hay Fever. This bluestem goldenrod has a panicle looking inflorescence which made it stand out.


Lady’s Thumb (Persicaria maculosa)

Lady’s thumbs is another plant I found that had an interesting inflorescence. This plant has a spike type of inflorescence. The lady’s thumb is also a medicinal plant. It was used by Native Americans for stomach pain and as an ailment for poison ivy. Lady’s thumb is also apart of the buckwheat family and a source of food for animals.


Beechdrops (Epifagus Virginiana)

Beechdrops are white and purple parasites that attach to beech trees. They gain nutrients from the beech tree’s roots. The beech root has no chlorophyll which means it is not green as seen by the white and purple coloring. The plants can grow up to 18 inches in height which still makes them smaller and easily overlooked.

Winter creeper (Euonymous fortunei)

Winter creeper is an invasive plant that has adapted to many environments. This vine has spread widely over the eastern part of the United States. This is invasive as it spreads across the ground and cuts off the chances for seedlings to grow as it also climbs trees.

American cancer-root (Conopholis americana)

American cancer-root, like the beechdrops, is completely parasitic. The cancer-root attaches to the roots of oaks and gains its nutrients solely and directly through the roots. The lack of chlorophyll appears again as the cancer-root is white, or black as we saw on our trip. The cancer-root only gets up to 8 inches and an inch in width. While it is called a cancer root, it has nothing to do with preventing or causing cancer.

Haircap moss (Polytrichum commune)

Haircap moss is a moss that grows up to 40 cm. This seems like a very large moss, most however are around 20cm. These are found in moist and acidic habitats. Haircap moss also is used as a decorative material in New Zealand.  There it is woven into fabric.