Site description

Alum Creek Park North is one of the largest tracts of undeveloped woodlands with in the City of Westerville, consisting of 70 acres of riparian forest, CRP fields, cut hiking trails, and stream.  I chose this site because I grew up exploring these woods, and fishing Alum Creek.  Due to the park’s prime location for development, the City of Westerville has placed a conservation easement on the tract of woods to keep the property protected for the foreseeable future.

*Alum Creek Park North

A sample of plants

Trees

Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Some interesting fun facts about Sycamores are as follows: Sycamore trees symbolize strength, eternity and divinity. The wood of sycamores is used in the industry of furniture, musical instruments, kitchenware and butchers’ blocks. Sycamores are often planted in urban areas because of their ability tolerate air pollution and provide shade, while also serving as windbreak thanks to strong root system that holds the plant firmly attached to the ground. Sycamores can survive from 150 to 600 years in the wild. (http://www.softschools.com/facts/plants/sycamore_tree_facts/1209/)

Flowering plants

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Some fun facts about Jewelweed are as follows: Jewelweed contains chemicals that are useful in treatment of poison ivy rash, skin burns, insect bites and hives. It also contains antimicrobial compounds that can be used in treatment of athlete’s foot. The sap of jewelweed can be applied directly to an injury or used in the form of poultices and tea to promote healing. Native Americans used jewelweed as a source of yellow and orange pigments, and the petals, mixed with alum were used for the preparation of red or pink-colored nail polish in the Ancient China.

Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)

Some fun facts about Brown-eyed Susan are as follows: The mid-stem leaves of the Brown-eyed Susans are lance-linear to oblong, and sessile. Native to North America, Brown-eyed Susan flowers are prolific wildflowers that have become popular in the home flower garden.
Brown-eyed Susans are a host plant for the Silvery Checkerspot butterfly caterpillar, and
Brown-eyed Susan typically stays in a basal rosette its first year, and then produces upright branching stems with flowers in the second year. (http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b937)

Woody vines

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Some fun facts about Virginia Creeper are as follows: Thanks to the thick foliage produced by the vine, it provides for small animals, shelter.  When planted in shaded areas and on slopes, the vine actually helps in preventing soil erosion. From a medicinal point of view, the bark of the vine becomes of great use in treating coughs, where the berries can be used for various rheumatic complaints. The roots are used as a remedy for diarrhea. Because of its deep burgundy foliage in the fall, the plant is popularly used as an ornamental plant. The vine can be used to transform uninteresting walls, trellises, masonry walls, arbors, or fences, into things of beauty. (https://gardenerdy.com/virginia-creeper-vine)

Roundleaf Greenbriar (Smilax rotundifolia)

Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Some identification features are as follows:  Poison ivy leaves are compound leaves, that is, each leaf is composed of three leaflets. In each set of leaflets, the middle leaflet has a longer stem than the two side leaflets. The stem on the side leaflets can be so small as to be almost invisible. The stems of the two side leaflets are always directly opposite each other. The sets of three leaflets are never directly opposite each other on the vine. The veins of each leaflet are generally alternate along the main vein LEAVES OF THREE LEAVE THEM BE. The vines of poison ivy are also covered in fine hairs and the plant can appear as a vine or as a “shrub”.(https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/identifying-poison-ivy)

Mosses

Thuidium spp.

Anomodon  spp.

Lichens

Physconia spp. (Frost Lichen)

Floristic Quality Assessment Index

List of Plants and Associated Coefficient of Conservatism Values

Common Name Scientific Name CC Value
TREES —————————————- ————–
Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos 4
American Elm Ulmus americana 2
Box Elder Acer negundo 3
Black Walnut Juglans nigra 5
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis 4
Eastern Cottonwood Populus deltoides 3
Pawpaw Asimina triloba 6
Ohio Buckeye Aesculus glabra 6
Bitternut Hickory Carya cordiformis 5
Sycamore Platanus occidentalis 7
Woody vines —————————————- ————–
Riverbank Grape Vitis riparia 3
Crossvine Bignonia capreolata 7
Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia 2
Poison Ivy Toxicodendron radicans 1
Roundleaf Greenbriar Smilax rotundifolia 4
Herbaceous plants —————————————- ————–
Yellow Jewelweed Impatiens pallida 3
Summer Phlox Phlox paniculata 2
White Snakeroot Ageratina altissima 3
Wingstem Verbesina alternifolia 5
Tall Ironweed Vernonia gigantea 2
Giant Sunflower Helianthus giganteus 6
Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica 1
Water Willow Justicia americana 9
Stiff-leaved Goldenrod Solidago rigida 8
Browneyed Susan Rudbeckia triloba 5
Great Lobelia Lobelia siphilitica 3
Common dittany Origanum dictamnus 6
Bull Thistle Cirsium vulgare 0
Red Clover Trifolium pratense 0
Wild Mint Mentha arvensis 2
American Ginseng Panax quinquefolius 6
Tall Thistle Cirsium altissimum 4
American Pokeweed Phytolacca decandra 1
Queen Anne’s Lace Daucus carota 0
Sorrel Rumex acetosa 0
Mock Strawberry Duchesnea indica 0
Prairie Dock Silphium terebinthinaceum 8
Hairy Aster Symphyotrichum pilosum 1
Oriental Lady’s Thumb Persicaria longiseta 0
Purple Cone Flower Echinacea purpurea 6
Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata 0

 

FQAI = 22.61

 

Low CC Plants

Mock Strawberry (Duchesnea indica) CC Value = 0

Mock Strawberry is a weedy member of the Rosaceae family.  The yellow flowers of Mock Strawberry are solitary, coming from leafy joints on the stems, with 5 toothy bracts at the base of each flower.  Although the accessory fruits from this plant strongly resemble strawberries, the “berries” contain very little juice and lack flavor. “The entire plant is medicinal as an anticoagulant, antiseptic, depurative (purifier) and febrifuge (fever reducer). The herb can be used for stomatitis (an inflammation of the mucus lining), laryngitis, and acute tonsillitis.” (https://www.bellarmine.edu/faculty/drobinson/IndianStrawberry.asp)

 

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) CC Value = 0

Red clover, like mock strawberry listed above, is not a native plant to the Americas, but has become naturalized from Europe.  Seldom growing over 60 cm the Red Clover is a small herb.  The inflorescences are arranged terminally, settled in 2 or 3 leaves, and are made up of 100 or smaller flowers.  Red clover flowering plant parts are said to retard progress of cancerous tumours before ulceration has taken place. “Red clover flower is also used in skin problems, like psoriasis and upper respiratory tract problems.” (https://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/aboutflowers/stateflowers/vermont-state-flowers)

 

High CC Plants

Water Willow (Justicia americana) CC Value = 9

Water Willow often grows to 3 feet  and forms dense clumps along stream banks.  The seldom branching stems are laden with long and narrowly tapered, smooth margin, opposite leaves with whitish midveins. Water Willows play a critical role in streams wherein the submerged portions of the plant provides habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates.  These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species.  After Water Willows die,  they are decomposed by bacteria and fungi which provides food for many aquatic invertebrates.  Deer will browse the leaves while beaver, muskrat, and nutria will consume the rhizomes of water-willow. (https://agrilife.org/aquaplant/plant-identification/alphabetical-index/water-willow-american-water-willow/)

 

Stiff-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago rigida) CC Value = 8

Stiff-leaved Goldenrod is a member of the Asteraceae family that is recognized by its broad, flat-topped inflorescence.  The plant usually grows to the height of one meter, and the leaves alternately arranged, stiff, and rough textured. The leaves at the bottom of the plant are broad and oblong while the upper leaves are lance shaped and narrow.  Not only will this plant flair ones allergies like no other, but Thomas Edison made tires for the Ford Model T using the rubber extracted from its leaves. The flowers were used as a source of yellow dye and the leaves were chewed by Native Americans to alleviate symptoms of toothaches. (http://www.softschools.com/facts/plants/goldenrod_facts/1309/)