Due to the nature of my survey, invasive plants, my CoC’s are quite low. That said, I did find some pretty cool stuff including one complete surprise.
4. Summer grape (vine) – I chose this one over the other 4th highest (woolly sweet cicely) because I found it interesting that something so prone to infestation was rated moderately high (CoC = 4). This is very easily identified in the woods because of how prevalent they can be. Summer grape is a woody vine that grows in thick patches in Ohio. It is usually quite thick in diameter for a creeping vine, and is very often found loping over other trees that have already grown. It often chokes out the trees on which it grows due to shade and resource competition. It was at one time suggested to be planted for it is technically a native species, but in many areas has become a nuisance due to its overgrowth.
3. Sweet scented Joe pie weed – This wildflower has a CoC of 5, and is pictured above. This was found on a run along the OBT right by the stadium. It is distinctly umbellate and is apparently light purple. Another distinctive feature of this flower is the deep purple coloring at the joints of the stems. The flower itself is quite small, due to the umbellate nature, and does not feature any thorns or other stem modifications.
2. Skunk cabbage – This is an absolutely bizarre plant that I did not realize was something native and somewhat desirable. I did not get a good picture of it as it was already smashed by the time I got to it. That said, its features are so distinctive that I was still easily able to identify it while looking through the ODNR Ohio Wildflower field guide. The above image was not taken by me, however, it still does show how distinctive this plant is. I found my sample out east in New Concord, Ohio. This area is very interesting as it begins to get far more hilly than western Ohio. The skunk cabbage gets a CoC of 7.
1. Ohio Goldenrod – This ought to come as no surprise that it was found anywhere in Ohio, nor will it be a surprise that it has a CoC of 9 given its name. This wildflower is just about everywhere you look in Ohio. I found it at Scioto Grove, OBT, ORW, New Concord, and Sharon Woods. Just about any forest and prairie in Ohio will have it. It is a relatively tall wildflower with distinctive yellow flowers that form in strands at the tips of the stems. This flower is also home to something interesting which is a sort of parasitic fly. The fly grows its offspring within the stem of the plant and you can actually see this occur because there will be a “lump” toward the top of the flower stem. Nature be crazy like that.
Due to the nature of my project, my four lowest scores are all invasive and thus not rated in the CoC. I have chosen some of my favorite invasive plants and one non invasive pest plant.
4. Honeysuckle – This shrub is incredibly invasive and looks like crap. It dominates the understory in any area that it invades and chokes out anything that isn’t completely shade-tolerant. This can be found in so many places in Ohio since it was once suggested to be used for erosion control along riverbeds and roadways. Fun fact, honeysuckle isn’t actually very good at erosion control so that’s a big win for humanity. Always do first and then deal with the consequences…never. Honeysuckle is so invasive because it has such hardy roots that can store nutrients and the seed bank for years. If you attempt to cut it down, 10 times as many sprouts will shoot up from the stump. If you do not apply herbicide within a few hours of cutting, it will have no effect and will regrow the next year. Honeysuckle also has some features which easily out compete native plants such as growing leaves earlier in the spring than native plants and loses its leaves later in the fall than native plants. These features allow it to grow far more in a season than native plants and then dominate the understory. CoC = * (unrated)
3. Tree of Heaven – This tree can actually grow to be shrub-like, though it is most often a tree. It is very often found at the edge of forests and along roadsides. It is another invasive plant that just grows so much faster than other plants, up to 50 ft in just 25 years. The bark is a distinctive smooth, but scarred grayish. The leaves are pinnately compound, notched only at the base, and pointed at the tip. That said, the most distinctive feature of this tree is the smell. If you crush the leaf stalks, twigs, or leaves the smell is awful. It smells like rotting peanuts, some claim it smells like cat pee, but I have a cat and that tree doesn’t smell anywhere near as bad as the cat pee. CoC = * (unrated)
2. Bamboo – So somehow we have bamboo growing in Columbus. When a friend heard that I was doing a project on invasive species they suggested I include bamboo, to which I scoffed saying “there’s no bamboo in Columbus!” Well here I am admitting that I was wrong. I found bamboo while running along the OBT in a section where you have to cut through an alley with some hipster condos along the river. If I had to hazard a guess I would assume that one of the hipsters bought some bamboo to grow in their house and then tried to dump it outside or in the trash or something. Then, being bamboo, it grew like hell and will continue to spread. Bamboo is very distinctive because of its features including the shape in which it grows (numerous shoots), the hollow stems, and the fact it grows in thick infestations as seen above. CoC = * (unrated)
1. Evening primrose – This flower species is not actually invasive, but it still has a very low CoC (1). I believe that the reason it has such a low CoC is due to its nature as a primary colonizer. This means that it spreads to recently disturbed areas like roadsides and waste areas. I believe the low CoC is due to the fact that it is easily outcompeted by other species once the area is suitable for them. Meaning, it is not an important species for an already established ecosystem, it is only important for that ecosystem becoming established. Another fun fact is that its name comes from the fact that it is pollinated in the evening, and the flowers open up in the evening. I found the flower during an especially cloudy part of an especially cloudy day, which makes sense why some of the flowers were open.