Discovering Hayden Falls

Hello all! This page is dedicated to Hayden Falls in Columbus, Ohio.

Hayden Falls Nature Preserve is a small preserve in Columbus, Ohio with a boardwalk that passes through. It bordered the Scioto River and the boardwalk followed along a small stream. The terrain was quite rocky and moist, however the waterfall at the end of the boardwalk had dried up.  The surrounding area was intense and steep rock formations that  were practically straight up and down, yet many plants were growing off the walls. Since the area was a nature preserve, it was illegal to climb off the boardwalk, so much of the area was undisturbed my humans. However there was some litter left behind at the end of the boardwalk in the water from the stream and what used to be the waterfall. The entirety of the way to the end was surrounded and covered by trees and shrubs leaving to to feel more like you were a great expanse of woods rather than a tiny sliver between roads and houses.

Trees in Hayden Falls:

Celtis occidentalis (American hackberry):

Below are pictures of the American hackberry tree known to have narrow and pointy leaves with rough texture. The hackberry tree has a wide range of uses but the most common is as a source of nectar.

Fun fact: A common disease this tree can have that affects the branches is called witches-broom disease.

Malus (crabapple tree):

Here is a crabapple tree found in Hayden Falls. The crabapple tree is much like a miniature apple tree and is quite beautiful when all the flowers are in bloom.

Fun fact: The crabapple is edible! it is quite tart so it is uncommon to eat raw, but it is often used in recipes.









Shrubs and Vines in Hayden Falls:

Euonymus fortunei (Wintercreeper):

The wintercreeper is actually quite the invasive species and spreads quickly and easily up and around trees. It is also extremely hard to remove wintercreeper as it develops intensive root systems under ground.

Fun fact: This plant can either lead to the detriment and even death of trees and surrounding vegetation.

Euonymus alatus (burning bush shrub):

This bush is used as an ornamental shrub as hedges and foundation plantings. The winged burning bush is also special due to the wing like structures  on the stem.

Fun fact: The burning bush is named as such because in the fall the leaves of  the bush turn bright red.









Wild Flowers in Hayden Falls:

Impatiens capensis (spotted touch-me-not ):

The flowers of the spotted touch-me-not are shaped like a cornucopia and have three unequal sepals, two being smaller while the third is actually a sack with a spur. The five petals appear to only be three as the two sets of side petals are each fused. The fruit produced by these flowers is a capsule fruit.

Fun fact: These plants have been used by Native Americans for a multitude of medicinal purposes and are cultivated now for ornamentals. It is also believed that the juice from the foliage is actually able to cure poison ivy and stinging nettle.









Ageratina altissima (white snakeroot):

Shown below is the white snakeroot wildflower which is part of the daisy family, Asteraceae.

Fun fact: The name snakeroot for this plant comes from the old belief that this plant could cure venomous snake bites. This is not the case however as these plants are extremely toxic and even deadly to some livestock.

Poison Ivy  in Hayden Falls:

Toxicodendron radicaans (Poison Ivy):

Below is an image of poison ivy vines growing up the trunk of the tree shown here. Poison ivy is characterized by having leaves of three.  Using the term “leaf” in reference to the three, however, is actually incorrect as one leaf is made up of all three of these leaflets.











Part Two of Exploring Hayden Falls


FQAI of plants found in Hayden Falls:

Scientific name Common Name CC
Ulmus thomasii Rock elm 7
Lepidium virginicum Virginia pepperweed 1
Dicranum scoparium Broom forkmoss 3
Vernonia gigantea Giant ironweed 2
Vitis riparia Riverbank grape 3
Setaria viridis Green foxtail 0
Ulmus rubra Slippery elm 3
Cornus amomum Silky dogwood 2
Gleditsia triacanthos Honey locust 4
Polymnia canadensis Small flowered leafcup 5
Arctium minus Common burdock 0
Morus rubra Red mulberry 7
Salix nigra Black willow 2
Cercis canadensis Eastern redbud 3
Lactuca biennis Tall blue lettuce 1
Viola sororia Common blue violet 1
Oxalis dillenii Slender yellow woodsorrel 0
Acalypha virginica var. rhomboidea Common three-seeded Mercury 0
Catalpa spp. Catalpa 0
Erigeron canadensis Horseweed 0
Elymus virginicus Virginia wild rye 3


Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) of site: 2.35

Four Highest CC: 

  • Rock elm – 7
  • small flowered  leaf cup – 5
  • Honey locust – 4
  • Red Mulberry – 7


The rock elm is ranked with a CC of 7 because it is a species that typifies a stable environment, or in other words, it has a low tolerance for survival in unstable conditions.












Four Lowest CC:

  • Horseweed – 0
  • Catalpa – 0
  • Slender yellow wood sorrel – 0
  • Green foxtail – 0


Horseweed is ranked at a CC of 0 because it has a wide range of ecological tolerances and can survive almost anywhere. Often species like this are opportunistic invaders.

Invasive Species

Smooth Brome: Smooth brome is a species of perennial grass that can reach up to four feet tall. It grows on the outside of forests and along roads. This on specifically was found between the forest and the  road.  This plant was specifically introduced for cattle grazing and has since escaped and spread. (Link to source)












Multiflora rose: The multiflora rose is part of the Rosaceae or rose family and is a thorny shrub with serrated leaves arranged alternately and pinnately compound. This invasive plant was originally from Japan and was put to use both as an ornamental plant, and as a living fence for cattle. (Link to source)












Tatarian Honeysuckle: The Tatarian honeysuckle falls in the same category as the Amur honeysuckle, another extremely invasive shrub. The leaves of this honeysuckle are oval to egg shaped in comparison to the sharper pointed leaves of the Amur. This shrub was originally from Russia, China, and central Asia and was introduced here around the 1750s, the reason for this shrubs extreme success in survival is its berries which are eating by all kinds of birds and spread by them. (Link to source)












Common Buckthorn (found on iNaturalist not at Hayden Falls): These plants can be woody shrubs or trees and has leaves that are either rounded or pointed with toothed margins. They were brought here for ornamental use and for use as fences. They were specifically sought out for their hardiness. (Link to source)

Substrate Affiliated Plants

Redbud: The redbud tree is a limey substrate associated plant that is limited to growing  specifically in this substrate. As shown below the redbud tree has large heart-shaped leaves. This leaves are alternate and simple with entire margins. They are usually a solid green, but due to fall rolling around, they have begun to change color.














Sedges: Sedges are also limey substrate associated plants and are limited to this substrate. Sedges are herbaceous plants and (as pictured on the left here) look much like grasses, because they are! This particular sedge is Seersucker sedge (Carex plantaginea) which makes it a true sedge as a part of the Carex genus. Another name for this is the plantainleaf sedge because its leaves resemble a plantain.








Sugar maple (Acer saccharum): The sugar maple is not restricted to only lime substrates like the two plants above, but it is still commonly found in high-lime and clay rich substrates such as the thick tills of western Ohio.  The leaves of the sugar maple are simple and alternate as well as toothed with what looks like three “lobes” or sections that break off of the middle.






White Ash: White ash is a tree that is also common to high-lime and clay-rich substates. Ash trees however have become increasingly rare as the emerald ash borer preys on and kills off these tress. White ash has oppositely arranged pinnately compound leaves with entire margins. The leaves typically have 7-9 leaflets attached with one branching directly off the terminal bud.