Battelle Darby Metro Park is a sprawling 7000-acre park of forests, prairies, and wetlands. Located at 30°54’13″N83°12’56°W, the park comprises the north and south confluences of Big Darby Creek and Little Darby Creek. These creeks are recognized as State and National Scenic Rivers. The park features restored tallgrass prairie areas and grasslands home to a group of 10 American Bison that was reintroduced to the fields in 2011.
Celtis occidentalis – Common Hackberry
The common hackberry is a deciduous tree native to North America. Known for its ability to withstand high wind speeds and polluted air, this tree is widely planted for energy conservation. Native Americans valued the tree for its medicinal and ceremonial uses, where its bark was dedicated to gynecological services and sore throats.
Fraxinus nigra – Black Ash
Black ash is a tree native to eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It is commonly used for its wood, that is capable of being stripped into ribbons widely used for basket-making and making woven furniture. The seeds from the tree are important food sources for wildlife – birds and small animals are partial to its seeds, while deer and moose are partial to its twigs and leaves.
Two shrubs or woody vines:
Rhus aromatica – Fragrant Sumac:
Fragrant sumac is a deciduous shrub that is native to North America. It has a fragrant lemon scent when scratched and sniffed. It is a low growing shrub that is comprised of a dense mass of stems, which makes it a popular plant in construction when stabilizing banks and slopes. The leaves turn a vibrant burgundy color during the autumn seasons. It grows and spreads through underground rhizhomes, which slowly sprawl in many directions.
Lonicera tatarica – Bush Honeysuckle:
Bush honeysuckle is an invasive species that is adaptable to most soil and light conditions. Native to Asia and southern Russia, this invasive plant was introduced to North America for ornamental purposes due to their adaptability and extravagant flowerings. Historically, bush honeysuckle roots were used as a diuretic and laxative, along with other medicinal uses. When mixed with other medicinal herbs, a compound concoction of the honeysuckle is effective in treatment of stomach issues.
Two flowering/fruiting plants:
Cirsium altissimum – Tall thistle
Tall thistles are easily identifiable with their vibrantly colored flowered heads. This plant is native to tallgrass prairies, growing up the 5 feet in height. These thistles are often used as a determinant of a healthy and biodiverse prairie ecosystem.
Echinacea purpurea – Coneflower
Coneflowers are easily identifiable with their brightly colored petals and protruding “cone-shaped” spiny central disk. Coneflowers are native to eastern and central North America, where they thrive in dry prairies. Historically symbolizing healing and strength, the coneflower is widely loved in Estonia, where it has been the national flower since 1969. It was also widely used by indigenous peoples as treatments for the common cold and other inflammatory conditions.
Poison ivy can be identified with a couple helpful tricks. The saying “leaflets of three, let it be,” can be used to identify the poison with compound triplet leaflets. It also has aerial roots, which can be useful in its identification. It also typically produces white drupes, which are hard in nature.