So, the site I originally signed up for was Hayden Falls. However, I ended up at Griggs Reservoir Park because that’s where Google Maps took me! I had been to the park before to play disc golf and fish so I was familiar with the area already and knew it would have plenty of botanical opportunities so I decided to roll with it despite the mix up. I parked near the Disc Golf Course (the red pin on the map) and explored from there.
Griggs Reservoir Park Disc Golf Course is located on the Eastern side of the Scioto River flood plain just south of the actual dam that the park takes it name from. The park as a whole was created in 1905 when the dam was dedicated and contains 186 acres of land and another 363 water acres. There are multiple miles of paths (both bicycle/walking and driving), a disc golf course, boat launch, and nature preserves. Here is the website where I got the details, along with additional information. click me!
Now that that’s out of the way, onto the main event: the plants!
First, we have a tree that I have yet to come across on my botanical adventures for this class: the honey lucust (Gleditsia triacanthos) of the Fabacaea family. It is no surprise that I found one at Griggs Reservoir because it loves moist river valleys. Dr. Curtis in Ecology taught us that the reason the locust trees have thorns is for protection from the megafauna that used to roam the Americas and eat the locust trees. However, they have since gone extinct and now the locust trees are left with thorns that they no longer really need, how interesting!
Next up is another tree that appreciates the lowlands, but is far more delicious: the pawpaw (Asimina triloba) of the Annonaceae family. Pawpaws are actually the only member of it’s family in Ohio as most of them are tropical. We’ll take it because pawpaw produce a lovely tasting fruit, and we are actually in peak season right now. Unfortunately, the pawpaw I saw did not have any fruit.
On to the shrubbery!
First, a delicous looking plant that is apparently poisonous so watch out! It is known as American pokeweed in the common tongue and as Phytolacca americana to us plant nerds and is of the family Phytolaccaceae. Pokeweed has simple leaves on distinctive red/purple stems, grows up to 8 feet tall, and has green/white flowers that develop into purplish/blackish berries. Apparently, the berries are a food source for songbirds.
Secondly, is yet another delicious plant! Maybe if kids were taught how tasty foraging outdoors can be more would be interested? This is grape vine of the genus Vitis and Vitaceae family. This may have been one of the first plants I learned how to id because my grandmother loves to pick them from her fence line and turn them into stuffed grapeleaves, yum! However, it’s not all positive vibes with grape vine as they can be a noxious weed in Ohio and choke out other vegetation.
As far as flowers go, it may not be the optimal time to find flowers in Ohio, but there are still some out there to be found!
First up we have Eurybia macrophylla (Compositae), more commonly known as bigleaf aster. This is a widespread plant in Eastern North America that likes moist to dry soils and can be found in forests, thickets, or along roadsides like where I found this example. Originally in the Aster family, it has since been reclassified as part of the Compositae. Notice the lavender ray florets with the yellow disc florets, how pretty! Apparently, natives used to eat the young leaves as greens.
Next is a lovely little flower known as the jewelweed or Orange touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis) of the family Balsaminaceae. It is common along bottomlands and ditches, which makes sense because that’s where I found it at! Notice the 3 lobed corolla and how one of the calyx lobes hooks around back to give it its distinctive shape. Fun (and useful) fact: native americans would use the jewelweed as a remedy for poison ivy.
Speaking of poison ivy, there is plenty to be found at Griggs Reservior. Fortunately I managed to stay out of it with a little luck. You can stay out of it too if you know what to look out for. My dad taught me “three leaves, let it be” as a young child. To further help narrow it down, in the spring when the new leaves emerge they might be a reddish green color. Then in the summer the leaves transition to fully green before changing color again in the fall. Notice how the poison ivy I found already has red around the outside of the leaves.