Acid-loving Plants

Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana): Chestnut oak is generally found growing at the top of sandstone hills in eastern Ohio. It prefers to grow here because this is where the substrate is driest. This species is distributed along and outside of the glacial boundary (Forsyth).

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis): The bark of Eastern Hemlock is quite hard and difficult to chop, and its leaves fall upon drying, making it a poor choice for a Christmas tree. Its wood has historically be harvested to make railroad ties, and its bark has even been brewed into tea (Petrides 22).

Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum): This tree derives its namesake from its sour-tasting leaves. Sourwood is the only member of the heath family that grows into a full-sized tree and still produces flowers and fruit (Petrides 289).

Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys): Pinesap is a parasitic plant that leeches nutrients from the roots of trees. This is evidenced by its lack of green structures, indicating that its cells do not contain chlorophyl, and the plant does not undergo photosynthesis. Pinesap is not considered invasive, because its parasitism does not noticeably  harm its host (Klips).

Threats to Forest Trees

A few of the trees that we observed at Deep Woods are currently under threat due to certain diseases and insect infestations. For example, the butternut tree (Juglans cinerea) is particularly threatened by a fungal infection called canker disease. Infected trees have dark, sunken areas found around leaf scars and buds called cankers, and often die from the disease quite quickly. Butternut conservation efforts have been somewhat ineffective, as there is no direct way to prevent the spread of the disease in wild tree populations. As a result, conservation efforts have been focused on isolating trees and artificially increasing their fitness to ensure the survival of the species (Farlee et. al. 2). Another significant threat to forest trees is the hemlock wooly adelgid, an invasive insect that parasitizes eastern hemlock trees. The adelgid is native to Asia and is not preyed upon in North America, so it feeds freely upon eastern hemlocks, causing a significant decline in their population. Conservation efforts have included chemical treatments to hemlock trees, as well as introduction of certain Asian predatory beetles to control the adelgid population (Nature Conservancy).

The Appalachian Gametophyte

Appalachian Gametophyte

Vittaria appalachiana, commonly known as the Appalachian gametophyte, is a particularly interesting member of the fern family which we observed at Deep Woods. V. appalachiana is one of the only species of fern whose mature sporophytes have never been observed. While most ferns reproduce sexually by producing spores in their sporophyte life stage, V. appalachiana has only been observed reproducing asexually in its gametophyte life stage. The reproductive cells of V. appalachiana, called gemmae, are significantly larger than most fern spores, meaning their range of dispersal is more limited. These gemmae are thus dispersed only short distances by water, wind, and animals (gemmae dispersal in bryophytes is known to occasionally be facilitated by slugs). It has additionally been observed that many suitable areas in the Appalachian gametophyte’s range have not been colonized, even when in close proximity to the population. Considering these observations, botanists have found that the current distribution of V. appalachiana could only be possible if it had once reproduced via spore dispersal. Thus, botanists have concluded that V. appalachiana must have lost its ability to reproduce sexually around the time of the last ice age (Pinson & Scheuttpelz 669). Furthermore, it is not likely that the current populations of Appalachian gametophyte are being influenced by long-distance dispersal from a different sporophyte source; this would contradict phylogenetic trees constructed from the genetic and morphological data of ferns in the region. It is most likely that the wide range of the Appalachian gametophyte is a result of sexual reproduction and spore dispersal that the fern lost its ability to perform (674).

Two Members of the Birch Family

Smooth Alder (Alnus serrulata)

Black Birch (Betula lenta)

Other Observations

Snakeskin Liverwort (Conocephalum conicum): Snakeskin liverwort is thallose, as it has flattened groups of cells that resemble leaves, though it is a nonvascular plant. It also emits a citrusy odor when crushed (Klips).

Rough-leaved  Goldenrod (Solidago patula): As its name suggests, the leaves of this goldenrod are rough and sandpapery to the touch. It tends to grow in swamps and other wet areas (Newcomb 446).

Southern Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia rangiferina): Reindeer lichen, like all lichens, is a symbiotic organism composed of algae and fungi. This particular lichen grows in cold, arctic areas. In Scandinavia, it has been used in the production of alcohol (Britannica).

Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis): This fern produces two types of fronds – fertile and vegetative. Only the fertile frond produces spores, while the vegetative frond is sterile. Sensitive fern is a popular ornamental in North America, and it derives its name from its sensitivity to frost and cold temperatures (MDC).


Works Cited

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “reindeer lichen”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 3 May. 2021, Accessed 26 September 2022.

Farlee,L., Woeste, K., Ostry, M., McKenna, J., and Weeks, S. “Conservation and Management of Butternut Trees.” Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. 26(1):9-14.

Forsyth, Jane L. 1971. “Linking Geography and Botany… a New Approach.” The Explorer (13): 1-7.

Newcomb, Lawrence. 1977. Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide. Little, Brown & Co.

Pinson, Jerald B. and Scheuttpelz, Eric. 2016. “Unravelling the origin of the Appalachian gametophyte, Vittaria appalachiana.” American Journal of Botany, 103(4): 668–676

Petrides, George A. A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs: Northeastern and North-Central United States and Southeastern and South-Central Canada. Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

“Sensitive Fern.” Missouri Department of Conservation.

2022. Tennessee Hemlocks. The Nature Conservancy.