Tuesday, May 17, 2011


A common wildflower oddity of the eastern deciduous forest, the jack-in-the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) grows in a variety of wooded habitats provided that some topsoil is present.  Best growth occurs along rich, moist lowland slopes although smaller individuals frequent drier upland slopes.  The "pulpit" part of the plant is called the spathe and houses a stalk of tiny flowers called a spadix ("jack").  Most jacks have one to two leaves with up to three leaflets each.  Average height is between 12-15" although in favorable growing conditions it is not uncommon to see an individual approach 30".  Once fertilized, the flowers on the spadix will develop into a bright red cluster of seeds by late summer. 


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spring Flowers Part IV

Spring wildflowers are beginning to peak in eastern Ohio and will gradually wane over the next couple of weeks as average daily temperatures conitnue to increase and the amount of light available on the forest floor continues to decrease.  Usually a lull in flowering plants occurs between late May and mid-June signifying a transition between spring and summer flowering foliage.

Blue-Eyed Marys.  These colorful wildflowers are usually
widespread across moist wooded floodplains and gently
sloping, north facing upland wooded slopes.  Colonies
can be several hundred square feet in coverage on the
forest floor.

Fire Pink.  Occurs mainly on dry upland south-facing wooded
slopes commonly under stands of oak and hickory.  Bright
red flowers with notches on the ends of the petals make
this plant easily identifiable in the field. 

Golden Ragwort.  A generalist in terms of habitat, golden
ragwort can be found from roadsides to deep within wooded
areas.  The plant somewhat resembles hawkweed, but has
a purplish stalk and larger flowers.  Commonly encountered.

Cut-Leaf Toothwort.  Though not as small as the spring beauty,
cut-leaf toothwort could be easily overlooked if it weren't
for its tendency to be widespread across the forest floor.
Is somewhat of a generalist in terms of habitat.   It seems to
grow well as long as there is tree cover with not too much
moisture in the soil.  A plant of folklore, early settlers believed
it to be useful for curing toothaches.

Wood Poppy.  This colorful flower is one of the larger species
in terms of petal diameter in the watershed measuring up to
2 inches.  An easily recognizable plant when flowering
as no other large yellow flowers occur in early spring in this area.
The relatively large fleshy leaves are sometimes highlighted with
a silvery mottling.  Prefers moist low-land wooded slopes with
rich deep soils, but will occasionally be found on upland slopes
provided soils aren't too dry.  Occurs in large colonies covering
several dozen square feet where growing conditions are favorable.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Good Year for Morels

One of the most identifiable organisms of the eastern deciduous forest, the morel is reaching its peak season in eastern Ohio.  This has apparently been a good growing season for morels as I have encountered more than in year past.  White morels are commonly found under dead elm and apple trees where their mycelium take up residence in decaying roots. I have found them under decaying tulip poplar and maple as well.  This individual was approximately 4-5 inches in height and about 1.5 inches in width.  In a week or so the ascus (dimpled cap) will begin to darken and wither releasing spores.  One way morels differ from the traditional "toad stool" mushroom is by lack of a protective cap called a basidium which protects spores and allows for a more aerodynamic release. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jack Hanna Visits Captina Creek

Last night a crowd of between five and seven hundred people gathered at Ohio University Eastern to show support for the Captina Creek watershed.  Attendees enjoyed a 45 minute presentation by "Jungle" Jack Hanna which included video segments and several unique animals from around the globe.  Thirty exhibitors from various state and local entities were also on hand to provide educational information from different watersheds statewide.  The event was intended to raise awareness about Captina Creek's unique ecosystems and exceptional water quality which is comparable to the best streams in the state.  Here are some photos from last night:

EJ and Kim from OUE make last minute adjustments to the audio.

Monday Creek's booth attended by Nathan Schlater.

Raccoon Creek Partnership's booth attended by Amy Mackey.

Maggie Corder, watershed coordinator for Yellow Creek in
Jefferson County.

Oglebay Good Zoo's Vicki Markey-Tekely (holding lizard).

Impressive aerial map of the Captina Creek watershed
constructed by students from Olney Friends School.

Jack Hanna addressing the importance of Captina Creek.

One of Jack's animal friends from Africa.

A crowd favorite, especially with the kids.

Jack mingles with fans following the program.

Following the program, Jack was invited to speak to a group
of land owners from the Captina Creek watershed at a dinner
organized by the Captina Conservancy.  The Conservancy
used the dinner as a formal launching for their organization
which promotes the establishment of a private land trust
for residents of the watershed.  Approximately 50 people
attended the meeting which was organized by Kraig McPeek
of USFWS (standing behind Jack).