Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany

In order to observe a similar ecosystem to that of Deep Woods, I traveled to Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve at Hocking Hills State Park. The preserve is a deep, cool gorge, which some consider to be the deepest in Ohio! I hiked both the upper rim trail and the lower gorge trail.

Asteraceae – the sunflower family 

There are many species of plants within this family in Conkles Hollow. My individual assignment was to find two species within the family Asteraceae.

Tall Ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) is native to the majority of the Eastern United States. They flower in the late summer/early fall, brightening up the landscape!

Hollow Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium fistulosum) is native to Southern Canada and the Eastern United States. This plant, also known as trumpeted, is very important for pollinators, for example the seeds are eaten by swamp sparrows!


Ohio Geobotany

Plant distribution can be affected by not only substrate and climate conditions, but geologic substrate conditions. The geologic history of an area plays a large part in limiting certain species to an area; in Ohio, the soil has a limey limestone composition in the West and heavy acidic sandstone in the East (Forsyth, 1971). Conkles Hollow is located in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio, in the East. Below are four plant species that follow this distribution pattern!

Greenbrier (Smilax glauca) is a popular plant among wildlife and acidic sandstone! The berries are important for wintering birds and the foliage is tasty browse for mammals like white-tailed deer. While Greenbrier is a species typical to this area, I was not able to find any. This picture is from a trip I took to Red River Gorge, KY this past summer, which has a very similar ecosystem.

eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is present in unglaciated eastern Ohio, however it is distributed farther north than the glacial boundary. This can be explained by its requirement for cool, moist environments, which can also be found in northern regions. This picture is from I trip I took to Red River Gorge, KY this past summer. 

Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata) has stems that appear to arise out of the leaves! This is also a plant that I did not find during this particular outing, but I took this picture in Frankfort, Michigan (2017).

Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) is a beautiful orchid that loves acidic environments. I was not able to find one on my outing, so here is a picture I found online! 


Marsh, Prairie, and Fen

I visited Batelle Darby Creek and Cedar Bog (that isn’t a bog!) for this assignment.

A marsh is a wetland that is dominated by herbaceous species, rather than woody plants. At Batelle Darby Creek, I estimate the marsh is about 80% grasses, 10% forbs, 5% woody species, and 5% weeds. Cattail (Typha spp.) is the main species present. In drier spaces, there are species such as blue stemmed grass. The most common woody plant I saw was eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides). A forb that I saw most often was Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). Thistle (Cirsium spp.) and Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) are some common weeds present.

Scirpus cyperinus


The prairie at Batelle Darby seems to be in good condition, because the native grasses outnumber the present forbs. Grasses I found in the prairie included Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis) and Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi). In addition to this, there are little signs of any early successional growth. I saw black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) and poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) mixed in with the grasses.

Goldenrod can be seem intermixed with the grasses. 


A bog is a flooded acidic ecosystem, in which water can only leave through evaporation. While the name indicates that Cedar Bog has this kind of draining system, it actually is a fen. A fen is an ecosystem that drains and gets its water from groundwater or rainfall. A good way (usually) to tell between the two is that bogs will grow sphagnum moss.

My individual assignment was to find two plants at Cedar Bog that make you itch. The first two that came to my mind were Poison Ivy and Poison Oak. Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) was easy to find, the Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) was a little more difficult. I think I found some growing on a tree near my house on campus, however I have a hard time differentiating the two. The main difference between the two is the shape of the lobes; T. radicans has sharper lobes, while T. diversilobum has more rounded lobes – like many oak leaves! 

Toxicodendron radicans

Toxicodendron diversilobum on a tree along the Olentangy trail.

For this assignment I used a few outside sources for pictures of species I could not find; they are listed beneath the related pictures. For identification I used the Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and the Peterson Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs by George A. Petrides. For geobotany information, I used the article cited below.


Forsyth, Jane. 1971. Linking Geology and Botany…a new approach. The Explorer 13:3.

Newcomb, Lawrence. 1977. Wildflower Guide. Little, Brown and Company (Canada) Limited.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Floristic Quality Assessment Inventory. Accessed at

Petrides, George A. 1972. A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs. Houghton Miflin Company. New York.