Botanical Survey: Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park

I have recently been identifying and documenting various plant species found at the Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park on W Dodridge Street. This site is characterized by its swampy and marshy conditions that allow some special plant species to thrive. Near the park’s entrance is a small pond in the middle of a prairie, and this is where I observed the majority of my documented flowering plant species. There are trails beyond here that lead to a marshy forest environment, where I observed most of my trees and shrubs. These woods surround a larger area of swampy bodies of water that contain various unique aquatic plants.

Map of Olentangy Wetland Research Park, Source:


Poison Ivy

I ran into a startling amount of poison ivy while observing plants at the Wetlands Research Park, and most of it was right on the side of walking trails, easily accessible to humans and pets. Poison ivy can be identified by a few key features: trifoliate leaves, adventitious roots, and white drupes. Poison ivy leaves are divided into three distinct toothed leaflets. Its adventitious roots allow it to climb up trees in vines. Poison ivy also fruits in small white drupes that look like berries. By knowing these features of poison ivy, even inexperienced botanists can learn to avoid it!

 Flowering Plants

Prairie Rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium)

Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)

This species is also referred to as Queen Anne’s lace or bird’s nest. While it is edible, wild carrot is also a known skin irritant. According to legend, the small purple flower at the center of the umbel is a drop of Queen Anne’s blood that she shed while making the lace (MDC).

Tall Boneset (Euphatorium altissimum)

Biennial Gaura (Gaura biennis)

Annual Fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Chicory has a variety of nutritional uses. When roasted, its roots can be used to make coffee flavoring. They can also be used as a source of dietary fiber and a fat substitute (MDC).

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora)

Horseweed (Erigeron canadensis)

White Vervain (Verbena utricifolia)

White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)

This plant derives its name from the belief that it could be used to treat snake bites. Snakeroot is actually poisonous to mammals, and it is said that Abraham Lincoln’s mother died from drinking the milk of a cow that had ingested Snakeroot (MDC).

Long-Bristled Smartweed (Persicaria longiseta)


Box Elder (Acer negundo)

Box Elder (also known as ashleaf maple) is named as such because of its historical uses. The soft inner wood of this tree is ideal for making boxes, and its sap can be turned into syrup. Birds and small mammals also feed on its seeds (Petrides).

Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)

Shrubs and Vines

Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii)

Stickseed (Hackelia virginiana)


Species List with CC Values

Common Name Scientific Name Plant Type CC Value
Wild Carrot Daucus carota Herbacious 0
Tall Boneset Eupatorium altissimum Herbacious 0
Annual Fleabane Erigeron annuus Herbacious 0
Chicory Cichorium intybus Herbacious 0
Horseweed Conyza canadensis Herbacious 0
Long-Bristled Smartweed Persicaria longiseta Herbacious 0
Amur Honeysuckle Lonicera maackii Shrub/Vine 0
Common Ragweed Ambrosia artemisiifolia Herbacious 0
Curled Dock Rumex crispus Herbacious 0
Carolina Horsenettle Solanum carolinense Herbacious 0
Callery Pear Pyrus calleryana Tree 0
Foxtail Millet Setaria italica Herbacious 0
Multiflora Rose Rosa multiflora Shrub/Vine 0
Japanese Privet Ligustrum obtusifolium Shrub/Vine 0
Maximillian Sunflower Helianthus maximiliani Herbacious 0
Porcelain Berry Ampelopsis brevipedunculata Shrub/Vine 0
Evening Primrose Oenothera biennis Herbacious 1
Biennial Gaura Gaura biennis Herbacious 1
Hemp Dogbane Apocynum cannabinum Herbacious 1
Common Blackberry Rubus allegheniensis Shrub/Vine 1
Gray Dogwood Cornus racemosa Tree 1
Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta Herbacious 1
American Pokeweed Phytolacca americana Shrub/Vine 1
Stickseed Hackelia virginiana Shrub/Vine 2
Black Willow Salix nigra Tree 2
Rough Goldenrod Solidago rugosa Herbacious 2
White Vervain Verbena urticifolia Herbacious 3
White Snakeroot Eupatorium rugosum Herbacious 3
Box Elder Acer negundo Tree 3
Slippery Elm Ulmus rubra Tree 3
Riverbank Grape Vitis riparia Shrub/Vine 3
Common Duckweed Lemna minor Herbacious 3
Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana Tree 3
Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis Tree 3
Swamp Beggartick Bidens connata Herbacious 3
Pale Touch-Me-Not Impatiens pallida Herbacious 3
Swamp Rose Mallow Hibiscus moscheutos Herbacious 4
Summer Grape Vitis aestivalis Shrub/Vine 4
Common Sneezeweed Helenium autumnale Herbacious 4
Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos Tree 4
Flowering Spurge Euphorbia corollata Herbacious 4
Norther Wild Senna Senna hebecarpa Shrub/Vine 4
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis Tree 4
Elephant’s Foot Elephantopus carolinianus Herbacious 4
Whorled Rosinweed Silphium trifoliatum Herbacious 5
Black Walnut Juglans nigra Tree 5
Giant Bluestem Andropogon gerardi Herbacious 5
Indian Grass Sorghastrum nutans Herbacious 5
Sugar Maple Acer saccharum Tree 5
Pignut Hickory Carya glabra Tree 5
Pawpaw Asimina triloba Tree 6
Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor Tree 7
Red Mulberry Morus rubra Tree 7
Blue Ash Fraxinus quadrangulata Tree 7
Chestnut Oak Quercus prinus Tree 7
American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis Tree 7
Sweet Goldenrod Solidago odora Herbacious 8


I = 160/sqrt(50) = 22.6

Carolina Horse Nettle (Solanum carolinense) CC = 0 : Carolina horse nettle is a shrub that produces small, green, tomato-like fruits. It blooms in white or violet star-shaped flowers in the summer. A member of the nightshade family, it is highly poisonous to livestock and humans. This plant has a low CC value because of its weedy nature and ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It is therefore quite common and not in particular need of conservation (NCS Extension)

Tall Boneset (Eupatorium altissimum) CC = 0 : Tall Boneset is an herbaceous plant that fruits in resinous achenes. This species interestingly displays apomitic polyploidy, meaning each cell contains 3 or more sets of chromosomes (MBG).

Annual Fleabane (Erigeron annuus) CC = 0 : Annual fleabane is a member of the family Asteraceae, producing white ray flowers and yellow disk flowers. It is often a pioneer of recently disturbed or man-made areas because of its broad tolerance in environmental conditions (Native Plant Trust).

Horseweed (Conyza canadensis) CC = 0 : Horseweed is a flowering herbaceous plant in the family Asteraceae that produces very small white ray flowers. It contains chemicals in its leaves that give it a bitter taste, so animals prefer not to graze on it (MDC).

Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora) CC = 8 : Sweet goldenrod is an herbaceous plant that produces small yellow flowers in the summer and fall. When its leaves are crushed, they emit an odor similar to anise, thus explaining the plant’s name. Despite its relative flexibility in substrate conditions, this goldenrod has a high CC value because it requires more specific growing conditions than other native weeds (

Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) CC = 7 : Swamp white oak is a bottomland tree that has shallowly lobed leaves, hairless twigs, and bowl-shaped acorn cups. It is the only oak to have acorn stalks much longer than its leaf stalks (Petrides 220).

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) CC = 7 : Sycamore trees are distinguishable by their bark, which peels off in places to create tan or yellow-ish spots. It fruits in aggregates of capsules. Sycamores are considered to be the most massive trees of the eastern US (Petrides 204).

Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata) CC = 7 : Blue Ash is a calciphillic tree that usually lives in limey soil. It is distinguished by its square-shaped twigs. The inner bark of the blue ash tree can be used to make a blue dye (Petrides 50).

Invasive Species

Porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) : Porcelain berry, otherwise known as Asiatic ampelopsis, is an invasive vine species that fruits in colorful, spotted berries. It is similar to the American cultivar but with hairy, longer-pointed leaves. American and Asiatic ampelopsis are the only known white-pithed vines without forked tendrils (Petrides 187).

Common Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) : Common privet is an invasive bush that hails from Europe, escaping from cultivation in the United States. It fruits small black berries in the fall (unripe berries pictured above) which are eaten by some song and game birds (Petrides 79).

Foxtail millet (Setaria italica) : Foxtail millet is a grain native to China that has become invasive in the US after escaping cultivation. It is widely grown for use as hay in the US and as a source of food in China. It is also often planted along highways following road construction to stabilize disturbed soil (Native Plant Trust).

Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) : Also known as the Bradford pear, this tree has been widely planted as an ornamental but is arguably now classified as an invasive. It is native to Asia and identifiable by its shiny, thick leaves that have wavy edges. It also produces flowers in bundles that emit a rancid odor (PSU Extension).

Substrate Associated Plants

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) : Eastern red cedar is a calciphillic tree, preferring to live in areas with limey soil (Forsythe). The tree has scaly leaves and its fruits look like green berries, but are really seeds encased in fleshy scales (Petrides 26).

American Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) : Hackberry trees are calciphiles, meaning they prefer to grow in areas with limey soil (Forsythe). Hackberry leaves have uneven bases and are arranged in a way that they shadow over each other. The tree produces small black berries and twigs have chambered piths (Petrides 209).

Chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) : Chestnut oak is an acidophile, meaning it prefers to grow in areas with dry, acidic soil (Forsythe). Its leaves have many rounded teeth and its bark is dark and deeply ridged (Petrides 220).

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis) : Eastern redbud is a calciphillic tree that prefers to grow in limey soil (Forsythe). It is distinguishable by its heart-shaped leaves and its legume fruits (Petrides 208).


Works Cited

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.