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Welcome to bobklips.com, the website of Bob Klips, a plant enthusiast living in Columbus, Ohio.

Tree-of-heaven very young fruits.
OSU at Marion.
June 18, 2008.

Last week the ultimate weed tree, tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima, was in flower. It was difficult to visualize those blooms developing into the familiar one-seeded winged fruits (samaras). This week the trees are further along.


Tree-of-heaven in early fruit stage, June 18, 2008, OSU-Marion.

It's now evident how the fruits will develop. Like maples which are two-parted, each seed-bearing unit (carpel) of the flowers apparently develops into a separate samara, but in this instance there is the potential for 5 samaras to develop from each flower!

Alanthus young fruits

Tree-of-heaven very young fruits, June 18, 2008.
A samara is a winged one-seeded fruit.

Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH
June 14-15, 2008

This weekend there was a bio-blitz at the DeepWoods Preserve in Hocking County. The bio-blitz was a "mini" biological inventory set up like a sacvenger hunt. A sacvenger hunt is like a scavenger hunt, but mispelled. In a bio-blitz, participants tally as many species as possible in a 24-hour period. Different small groups of people focused on insects, birds, mammals, herps (reptiles/amphibians), and vascular plants, while my group specialized in bryophytes. Here are the names of the mosses we saw.

Amblystegium varium, Anacamptodon splachnoides, Anomodon attenuatus, Anomodon rostratus, Atrichum crispum, Aulacomnium heterostichum, Bryoandersonia illecebra, Bryoxiphium norvegicum, Climacium americanum, Fissidens bryoides, Fissidens bushii, Forsstroemia trichomitria, Haplohymenium triste, Hedwigia ciliata, Hypnum curvifolium, Hypnum lindbergii, Leskea gracilescens, Leucobryum glaucum, Mnium hornum, Plagiomnium ciliare, Plagiomnium cuspidatum, Pogonatum pensilvanicum, Polytrichum ohioense, Schistidium rivulare, Steerecleus serrulatus, Tetraphis pellucida, Thuidium delicatulum, Tortella humilis, Ulota crispa.

One of the mosses is this somewhat distinctive pinnately branched carpet moss that has sickle-shaped leaves swept to the sides of the stems and branches. With the common name "feather moss," it is one of two common robust Hypnum species.  

Hypnum curvifolium

Hypnum curvifoilum moss on rock in mixed hemlock/hardwood forest, Deep wsoods Preserve, Hocking County, OH, June 14, 2008.

Hypnum curvifolium (family Hypnaceae) is a challenge to identify in the field because looks for all the world like another common species, Hypnum imponens.

The bio-blitz lab setup is improvised but complete, with microscopes and other equipment set up in a garage.

bioblitz lab

Moss bio-blitzers in improvised field lab at the 2008 Deep Woods Bio-blitz.

These two lookalike plants are distinguished through the microscope by leaf shape and differences in little scale-like appendages called "pseudoparaphyllia" that surround the bases of the branches.


Hypnum imponens, microscope view, showing branch insertion region encircled by pseudoparaphyllia.
Inset: an individual pseudoparaphyllium, showing featherlike divisions characteristic of the species.

Hypnum curvifolium leavesHypnum imponens leaves

Microscope views of two common species of Hypnum showing how to tell them apart. Left: H. curvifolium leaf bases sweep around completely like the base of a cartoon heart (i.e., the leaf base is cordate), and pseudoparaphyllia are small and simple (contrast with the feathery pseudoparaphyllia of H. imponens shown above). Right: H. imponens leaves are gently rounded at the base.

Deep Woods is a privately owned nature preserve that lies SE of S. Bloomingville, Hocking County, OH. Several forest types occur here, including mature oak/hickory, beech-hemlock maple, and riparian forest corridor. There are also seral stages ranging from mowed fields through weedy old fields and young pioneer forest. The area includes ravines, waterfalls, cliffs, caves and a creek running though the property. The rock types are sandstone, sandstone conglomerate, and shale (streambanks).

rockhouse at Deep Woods

A prominent feature of the Hocking Hills region is the "rockhouse," a perennially moist recess in the sandstone, often overtopped by an intermittent stream. The trees atop the ledge are eastern Hemlock, and an an eastern Phoebe is lingering nearby (they nest on ledges).

Unlike last year's Deep Woods crunchy moss bio-blitz, held during a particularly droughty July, rainfall has been prevalent lately and the mosses were lush! Two robust ones distinguishable by gametophyte alone are Atrichum sp. (probably A. oederstianum, family Polytrichaceae) and Rhizomnium punctatum, family Mniaceae.

Rhizomnium and Atrichum

Two mosses on the moist shaded forest floor at Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking Couunty, OH, June 15, 2008. The lance-leaved one on the left is Atrichum sp. (probably A. oederstianum) and the broad-leaved one is Rhizomnium punctatum.

A bit more challenging to identify, but nontheless worthy of attention because they are bryophytes, are the liverworts (Division Marchantiophyta). The most well-known liverworts are the flattened strap-like ones called "thallose liverworts" that show up in biology texts. (The word "thallose" generally describes a plant or plant-like organism that is structually simple, lacking differentiated organ systems.) Although they get a lot of publicity, these bland beauties are are actually the least typical, because the intricate "leafy liverworts" are much more common and there are many more species of them.

A thallose liverwort that is one of our most distinctive plants is Conocephalum conicum (family Conocephlaceae).Commonly found on moist shady soil and rocks, Conocephalum looks like snakeskin and smells like grapefruit. 

Conocephalum conicum

Conocephalum conicum, a thallose liverwort, Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, June 15, 2008.

While gambolling about looking for bryophytes, we encountered some interesting fungi. One of them is a type of "coral fungus." Coral fungi are basisiomycetes just like the more familiar mushrooms, but in the coral fungi the spore-bearing surfaces are presented externally on upright branches rather than on gills beneath a cap. An excellent fungus webpage  --Tom Volk's "Fungus of the Month" for June 2001 --that features this species can be found here. It's cute how he included an undersea picture showing actual coral as a comparison.

Clavicorona pyxidata

A coral fungus, Clavicornona pyxidata, Deep Woods Preserve, June 15, 2008.

After several attempts in 2006 and 2007, following people's directions, trying but failing to find a fern I've always wanted to see --the common adder's tongue, Ophioglossum vulgatum (family Ophioglossaceae) -- I finally had an able guide point it out to me. We need to cross a creek in order to see the fern, growing in an elm/ash-dominated floodplain.

walking in the creek

Bryo-blitzers walking in the creek, June 15, 2008.

Very exciting, although the specimens were kind of shop-worn...there's supposed to be an elongate rattle-like row of spore cases tipping the stem that can be seen arising from the base of the broad leaf, but apparently something ate them.

Ophioglossum vulgatum

Adder's-tongue fern, Ophioglossum vulgatum, after something ate the sporangia.
June 15, 2008, Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH.

Although it isn't a plant, a nifty aquatic stage of a lungless salamander lives in a wooded intermittent tributary to the Creek. According to the herpetlogists at the blitz, it's probably a "spring salamander," Gyrinophilus porphyriticus

spring salamander

There are a number of intriguing Angiosperms (flowering plants) at Deep Woods. The bedstraws (genus Galium, family Rubiaceae) are distinctive. They have slender stems, so much so that some species regularly recline on other vegetation. The narrow leaves are in whorls around the stem, and the flowers are tiny.

 Galium concinum

Marsh beddstraw, Galium concinum, June 15, 2008, Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH

This specimen was the first butternut, Juglans cinerea, family Juglandaceae I'd ever seen in Ohio. The species is declining over much of its range because of a devastating fungus disease that causes swellings (cankers) on the stems.The cankers progress to larger branches resulting in their death, and eventually cause the death of the tree. Butternut can be tricky to identify owing to a strong similarity to its close relative black walnut (Juglans nigra). There are species-specific differences in the buds and fruits. Also, butternut leaves look a little thicker than those of walnut and there is a greater tendency for the terminal leaflet to be present on butternut while it is often lacking in walnut. ("Off the wall" is a good trick to remember that.)


Butternut (Juglan cinerea) at Deep Wood Presefve, Hocking County, OH, June 15, 2008.

Sedges (family Cyperaceae) are grass-like in many respects as they are linear-leaved, wind-pollinated monocots with inconspicuous flowers. Unlike grasses (family Poaceae), which are important both ecologically (prairies are grasslands) and economically (corn, rice, oats, and wheat are all grasses), sedges are of some ecological mainly in wetlands but are insignificant economically (papyrus was made from a sedge, but that's about it, usefulness-wise). Many of our sedges are in the remarkably speciose genus Carex, with 159 kinds in Ohio.

Carex shortiana

Carex shortiana, June 15, 2008, Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH.

They deliquesce!
Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH
June 14-15, 2008

Most plant structures dry up when their useful life is over. Here are two that do the opposite. They deliquesce (change to a liquid).

The inky caps (genus Coprinus) are delicate mushrooms that produce black spores and have numerous thin gills. Several species (shaggy mane, C. comatus, for example) are choice edibles before they "liquify" but this one, the feltscale inky cap, C. quadrifidus is one of the few inky caps that are not recommended for eating. 

Coprinus quatifidus

Young Coprinus quadrifidus mushrooms on base of recently downed tree covered with Anomodon attenuatus moss, June 14, 2008, Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH.

Coprinus quadifidus melting

Old Coprinus quadrifidus mushrooms turning into black inky liquid. June 14, 2008, Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH.

Spiderworts (genus Tradescantia, family Commelinaceae) are mainly tropical but a few species manage to make it this far north. There are competing theories as to why it's called spiderwort (the "wort" suffix just means "herbaceous plant" in olde English). It might have to do with its cut leaves exuding strands of sap that resemble strands of  like a spider's web. Or it might be the overall aspect of the plant, with its nearly terminal clusters of drooping linear leaves looking sort of spidery. 

Tradescantia ohioensis

Tradescantia ohioensis flowers, June 15, 2008, Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH.
The bearded filaments (the lower portion of the male stamens, of which there are 6 per flower in this species) are fairly unusual and distinctive.

Spiderwort flowers seem to last one day, and on the 2nd day they deliquesce. The flowers are numerous, produced in an umbel (a flower cluster wherein many stalked flowers are attached at the same point on the stem). Unlike some umbel-bearing plants such as milkweeds and members of the carrot family where flowering occurs simultaneously in each umbel, spiderwort flowering is sequential.

Tradescantia ohioensis

Tradescantia ohioensis flower cluster, June 15, 2008, Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH

Spuiderwort dripping

Tradescantia ohioensis senescent flowers liquifying, June 15, 2008,
Deep Woods Preserve, Hocking County, OH

Rough avens
OSU at Marion, June 13, 2008

The map below shows the southern portion of the OSU at Marion campus. The interestingly patterned area in the center that surrounds a pond is the 12-acre Larry R. Yoder Prairie, a beautiful reconstructed tallgrass prairie. Running basically N-S is Grave Creek, a highly disturbed waterway that is periodically dredged to facilitate drainage. The areas south of the prairie on both sides of the creek are being farmed. This year it is soybeans.

osu campus aerial

OSU at Marion campus aerial (screen capture image from Google maps). Embedding the link didn't work.

See the southerly area of the farmfield where the soil is especially dark? That area is a little lower-lying than the remainder of the field, and it sometimes floods. Here's a panorama picture made by stitching together several images taken there just a few days ago. 
Today the farmer re-planted this portion of the field.

flooded field

Flooded soybean field at OSU-Marion, June 6, 2008
This portion of Grave Creek supports several much-appreciated native songbirds (willow flycatcher, yellow warbler, indigo bunting)  and, if it were better maintained, i.e., kept more natural, it could be a splendid riparian ecosystem. Plans are underway to re-orient the stream channel to be wider with curvier, and also develop a wetland in this low spot. These measures will improve water quality and add another habitat element to complement the prairie.  

Grave Creek

Grave Creek, OSU at Marion campus, facing south, June 13, 2008.

Most of the creekside vegetation is invasive "weeds" with a few species of native trees and shrubs that do well in disturbed places. In the foreground two grasses are evident: reed-canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) down by the water, and smooth brome (Bromus inermis) higher up the sloping streambank. Way in the distance the more densely vegetated southern stretch of the creek is in view. Here amur huneysuckle (Lonicera mackii), boxelder maple (Acer negundo) and some kind of shrubby dogwood (Cornus sp.) rule, along with poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Lots of poison-ivy.

A native herb of interest is rough avens (Geum laciniatum). It is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae.

rough avens

Rough avens (Geum laciniatum), OSU at Marion, June 13, 2008.

Like many other rose family members, each flower of this plant has numerous stamens and also numerous separate carpels (stigma-style-ovary units that develop into fruits) spirally arranged on a cone-shaped receptacle. Because there are many carpels, one flower develops into many fruits. Flower-wise, the following three genera --avens (Geum), cinquefoil (Potentilla) and strawberry (Fragaria) --look pretty much alike. But by their fruits ye shall know them! In fruit the styles of avens elongates and become stiff and hooked, facilitating their dispersal as stick-tights by passing animals. Cinquefoil fruits, unadorned, simply  drop to the ground, and strawberry fruits are ingested and excreted, of course.

rough avens

Rough avens (Geum lacianatum). Note the bristly aggregate of hooked one-seeded fruits (achenes).
June 13, 2008, OSU at Marion, along Grave Creek.

rough avens fruits

Rough avens, developing fruits. June 13, 2008, Marion, OH.
Earlier observations ("back")
More recent observations ("next")