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Welcome to bobklips.com, the website of Bob Klips, a plant enthusiast living in Columbus, Ohio.
Fall's Final Flower, a Few Fresh Fruits, and a Fern.
(American witch-hazel, several shrubs, and spinulose woodfern)
Hawk Mountain, Kempton, Berks County, PA.
September 20, 2008

Hawk Mountain

Hawk Mountain panorama. September 20, 2008.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is a several thousand acre nature sanctuary situated along an Appalachian ridge in eastern Pennsylvania --the Kittatinny Ridge, or Blue Mountain. The Appalachian Trail runs through the preserve. From September through November, Hawk Mountain is one of the best places in North America to view the annual raptor migration.

The soil is thin and sandy. Before blight killed the trees in the early 20th century, American chestnut (Castanea dentata, family Fagaceae) was predominant. Today, chestnut occurs only as scattered stump sprouts that succumb to the blight when they attain a diameter of a few inches. 

American chestnut

American chestnut, Hawk Mountain, PA. October 20, 2008.

Occasionally, an American chestnut sprout stays alive long enough to set fruit. The picture below is a fruiting tree that I photographed here last year.

American chestnut fruiting

American chestnut fruits, Hawk Mountain, PA., September 13, 2007.

A distinctive shrub of open areas is mountain-ash (Sorbus americana, family Rosaceae). Its fruits are small apple-like pomes that are eaten avidly by thrushes, blues jay, and cedar waxwing.


Mountain-ash in fruit. Hawk Mountain, PA. October 20, 2008.

The ridge is an acidic soil environment, which is a typical substrate for members of the heath plant family, Ericaceae. Two such heaths are evergreen shrubs: great rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) and mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia). Both are fruting now; the fruits are dry, many-seeded "capsules."

great rhododendron

Great rhododendron fruits. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton, PA. September 20, 2008.

mountain laurel

Mountain laurel fruits. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton, PA. September 20, 2008.

A very late flowering shrub is American witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana (family Hamamelidaceae). It bears small axillary clusters of greenish-yellow flowers that have very long, thin petals. Why is it called witch-hazel? Perhaps because its branches have a reputation for being well suited for fabricating dowsing-rods used  to find underground water, an activity regarded as a mild form of witchcraft. A watery ointment made from its leaves and bark is a well-known, widely available herbal remedy used for drying and cleansing skin.

American witchhazel

Amercan witch-hazel flowers, Hawk Mountain, PA. October 20, 2008.

Spinulose woodfern (Dryopteris carthusiana), family Dryopteridaceae) is an especially abundant woodland fern that sometimes forms large colonies. It ocassionally occurs in more open areas, where it might be mistaken for other ferns with lacy leaf dissection, such as hayscented fern.  

hayscented fern

Spinulose woodfern, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton, PA. October 20, 2008.

Like most ferns, the woodferns develop "sori": clusters of spore-cases on the undersides of otherwise normal appearing leaves. They are useful in identification, but sometimes they are absent. Thus, for a fern enthusiast working on a tricky identification who is hoping to see these things, the underside of a fern leaf can be a sight for sore eyes!

hay-scented fern sori

Spinulose woodfern sori at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. October 20, 2008.

Milkweed bugs
OSU at Marion Campus Prairie
October 16, 2006

The word "bug" is used in an informal sense to mean any crawling little invertebrate, but among entomologists the word is used in a more restricted sense, referring to any member of the insect order Hemiptera. These are insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts, gradual metamorphosis, and front wings that are in part leathery and in part membraneous. Both predaceous and herbivorous bugs occur. An especially beautiful and intriguing hemipteran is the milkweed bug, which feeds on seeds of milkweeds. Like milkweed beetles and monarch butterflies (which also feed on milkweeds), these bugs are brightly colored. Here are two individuals seen feeding at the OSU-Marion Prairie.

Wow! In "swing state" Ohio, it seems like politics is everywhere!

milkweed bugs

Milkweed bugs feeding on common milkweed. October 16, 2008. Marion, Ohio.

Especially Abundant Asters (and a spear-scale)
Pleasant Township Park, Marion Ohio
October 2, 2008

During early and mid-autumn, fields and roadsides in the northeastern US and adjacent Canada are blanketed by spectacular flowering displays consisting mainly of certain perennnial members of the aster family. These are goldenrods (genus Solidago) and asters (until recently classified in the genus Aster, but now that Aster is regarded as restricted to the Old World, most of our asters are classified as Symphyotrichum species).

Pleasant Township Park is a recently acquired nature preserve in Pleasant, Marion County, Ohio. Here's an aerial photo showing the approximate park boundary.

Pleasant Park

Pleasant Township Park, Marion Ohio (image courtesy of Google Maps)

Just north of the woods there is a an open meadow that was planted with prairie seeds, but it also includes many plants that became established there naturally, such as goldenrod and asters.

meadow an Pleasant Park

Meadow at Pleasant Park. October 2, 2008.

Our most common goldenrod is Canada goldenrod, distinguished by its upright clonal growth, arching elm-like flowering branches, slightly hairy stem, and narrow triple-nerved leaves.

Canada goldenrod

Canada goldenrod, Pleasant Township Park
Marion, Ohio. October 2, 2008.

The most conspicuous aster is New England aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, distinguished by it purple ray flowers and yellow disk flowers.

New England aster

A confusing group of asters are the small-flowered white ones, of which the eastern lined aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatus) is abundant here.

eastern lined aster

Eastern lined aster. Pleasant Park, Marion County, Ohio. October 2, 2008.

The goosefoot family Chenopodiaceae includes herbs with small greenish flowers.  Spear-scales (genus Atriplex) have flat paired bracteoles enveloping the small single-seeded fruits (achenes). They are associated with saline or alkaline soil (although this site isn't especially so).


Spear-scale at Pleasant Park.
October 2, 2008.

spear-scale fruits

Fruits of spear-scale at Pleasant Park, Marion County, Ohio. October 2, 2008.

Castalia Quarry Reserve
Erie County, Ohio
September 28, 2008

Castalia Quarry Reserve

Castalia Quarry Reserve. September 28, 2008.

The Wagner Quarries Company Quarry #5 in Castalia, Margaretta Township, Erie County, Ohio operated during two time periods. The first was from the early 1870's until the economic hard times of 1929. During that period it mainly provided large chunks of  limestone used for shoreline riprap and general building purposes. Later, after laying idle for 25 years, quarrying resumed in the mid 1950's to provide stone for the Ohio Turnpike, and continued in order to construct the bases of two bridges that cross Sandusky Bay. Quarrying ceased presumably for good in 1965. Since then, the area has been allowed to revegetate and has become recognized as a significant natural area with many interesting plants having an affinity for high-pH substrates. It is managed by Erie County Metroparks. We visited the area in late September during the Ohio Moss and Lichen Assocation's Fall Foray

omebody left behind a couple of small scraps of metal. Litterbugs! We thought about taking them home, but with all the moss specimens and crisp fall apples from a nearby farm stand there was absolutely no room left in the trunk. Besides, how many stone crushers do you need?

stone crusher

Portions of stone crusher at Castalia Quarry Reserve, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

The trees at the Quarry are colonized by some common, beautiful foliose macrolichens. One of them, a "speckled shield lichen" in a genus recently segregated from Parmelia, is Punctilia rudecta. This lichen is large, gray, with crowded wavy lobes. Ray Showman and Don Flenniken in their terrific "The Macrolichens of Ohio," tell us this lichen is "very common in the eastern US on sunny trees and rocks; one of the most common of Ohio's foliose lichens...this species is moderately sensitive to air pollution and was previously impacted in parts of northeastern Ohio. With the recently improved air quality, it is recolonizing the area."

Punctilia rudecta

Puctilia rudecta on tree trunk, Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

A similarly widespread and common lichen is Candelaria concolor, one of two "candleflame lichens" known from North America, both of which are present in Ohio. It is a foliose lichen with lobes so very minute it could be mistaken for a crustose one. Ray and Don tell us C. concolor occurs on bark exclusively.

Candelaria concolor

Candelaria conclor
on tree trunk, Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

The limestone rocks scattered on the quarry floor have mosses growing on them. Two especially common ones, both of which are pleurocarps (also called "carpet mosses," i.e., mosses that lay flat, are repeatedly branched, and produce their sporophytes in the axils of the branches), are Bryoandersonia illecebra (family Brachytheciaceae) and Homomallium adnatum (family Hypnaceae).  

Entdon seductrix

Bryoandersonia illecebra on rock,
Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

Entodon seductrix closeup
Closeup of Bryoandersonia illecebra at Castalia Quarry. September 28, 2008.

Homomslium adnatum

Homomallium adnatum on rock, Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

Striking vascular plants occur in the open woods along the rim of the quarry. This time of the year sumac shrubs present birds-eye-catching deep red panicles of many small fruits (drupes). Two similar species of sumac (Rhus) are common, differentiated by the presence or absence of hair on their stems. Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) grows at the quarry, while smooth sumac (R. glabra) was seen the previous day at Edison Woods, also in Erie County.  Sumac fruiting clusters can be immersed in cold water to make a lemonade-like drink that is pleasant, provided that a ton of sugar is added.

stagfhorn sumac

Staghorn sumac at Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

smooth sumac

Smooth sumac at Edison Woods, Erie County, Ohio. September 27, 2008.
The rim of the quarry is sparsely vegetated with a variety of herbaceous plants, including some interesting calciphiles. An uncommon goldenrod seen growing in low moist spots, and a species sometimes found in calcareous fens, is Ohio goldenrod, Solidago ohioense.

Ohio goldenrod

Ohio goldenrod at Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

Several other, more generally widespread goldenrods goldenrods are conspicuous, including gray goldenrod, Solidago nemoralis, and blue-stemmed goldenrod, S. caesia. Gray goldenrod is typically found in dry open fields, while blue-stemmed is more of a woodland species.

gray goldenrod

Gray goldenrod at Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

blue-stemmed goldenrod

Blue-stemmed goldenrod at Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

Nodding ladies'-tresses is a fairly low-growing orchid growing on patches of thin soil over a mid-level plateau area of the quarry, along with with other herbs.

noddking ladies'-tresses

Nodding ladies'-tresses at Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

The mint family (Lamiaceae) is one of our most distinctive ones, consisting of herbs with square stems and opposite leaves, and bearing two-lipped bilaterally symmetric flowers with fused petals often arrayed in tight spike-like or globular clusters tucked in the axils of reduced leaves. An inconspicuous, and strikingly non- mint-like mint is a little annual found in open areas that is comparatively few-flowered and has corolla lobes that are are nearly equal, False pennyroyal (Isanthus brachiatus).

false pennyroyal

False pennyroyal at Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.

One clue to false pennyroyal's mebership in the Lamiaceae is the deeply 4-lobed ovary that eventually matures into 4 little nutlets. This is evident in the recently dehisced flower (now a young fruit) in the foreground.

false pennyroyal flower

False pennyroyal at Castalia Quarry, Erie County, Ohio. September 28, 2008.
Goldie's fern and butternut.
 Edison Woods, Erie County, Ohio.
September 27, 2008.

Edison Woods is a 1,300 acre nature preserve that includes woodland, wetlands, and meadows. Because it encompasses the headwaters of Old Woman Creek, it safeguards water quality in that important estuary. From 1991 until 2001, Erie MetroParks leased the land from Ohio Edison Company,  managing it as parkland with nature trails for the public. In 2001, the Trust for Public Land partnered with the City of Marion and Erie MetroParks to acquire funding to purchase the land through Ohio EPA's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program. Now it is permanently protected, and still managed by Erie Metroparks.

The area is traversed by an escarpment of Berea sandstone that comprises a regionally unusual substrate type for mosses and lichens. 

Edison woods

Sandstone escarpment at Edison Woods, Erie County, Ohio. September 27, 2001.

One of the more common mosses at Edison Woods and elsewhere in Ohio is a log-inhabiting pleurocarp (carpet moss), Callicladium haldanium (family Sematophyllaceae).

Callicladium haldaneum

Callicladium haldanianum, a common moss found carpeting decaying logs.
Edison Woods, Erie County, Ohio, September 27, 2008.

The woods is home to two woodfern species that are simliar in being somewhat leathery-leaved, with bipinnate-pinnatifid (fernlike, bascially) leaf morphology, and a scaly rachis (leafstalk). One of them, marginal woodfern (Dryopteris marginalis) is quite common, while the other, Goldie's fern (D. goldiana) is encountered much less often.

marginal woodfern plant

Marginal woodfern is medium-sized, with a proportionally short rachis (leafstalk).
It has an upright rootstock, hence its leaves are arranged in circular rosettes.
Edison Woods, Erie County, Ohio. September 27, 2008.

Goldie's fern

Goldie's fern is the giant of woodferns, with a proportionally long rachis.
It has a somewhat creeping rootstock, hence its leaves are more widely spaced than
those of marginal woodfern.
Edison Woods, Erie County, Ohio. September 27, 2008.
When these ferns present sori (clusters of tiny spore cases) on the undersurfaces of their leaves, identification is made even clearer. The sori of marginal woodfern are located just within the margin of the leaf (inframarginal), whereas those of Goldy's fern are well within the area between the margin and the midvein (inframedial).

marginal woodfern soriGoldy's fern sori

sori. Left: infrarginal sori of D. marginalis. Right: inframedial sori of D. Goldiana.
Edison Woods, Erie County, Ohio. September 27, 2008.

Butternut (Juglans cinerea, family Juglandaceae), also called "white walnut" is a beloved North American hardwood tree that produces an easily worked light brown wood that is prized for carving and cabinetry. The  the nuts are excellent food for wildlife and humans. It is a close relative of the very common black walnut (J. nigra). In much of its range, including Ohio, butternut populations are being decimated by an exotic fungus disease called butternut canker, that causes open sores (cankers) on stems.The cankers kill the stems and ultimately the whole tree sucumbs. It was a special thrill to see a mature butternut tree that bore fruits.

butternut tree

Trunk of fruit-bearing butternut tree.
Edison Woods, Erie County, Ohio.
September 27, 2008.

Butternuts are similar to black walnuts, but they are ellipsoidal (black walnuts are globose), and sticky.

butternutsblack walnuts

Juglans fruits.
Left: butternut (Edison Woods, Erie County, OH, September 17, 2008)
Right: black walnut (Castalia Quarry, Erie County, OH, September 18, 2008)
Earlier observations ("back")