Prairie Plants of Ohio’s Darby Plains

A List Compiled by
Anthony Sasson, Andrew Boose, and Robert Klips
March 8, 2021

The list without notes can be viewed as a web page here (link):

The list with notes can be downloaded as an excel spreadsheet here:

What is this List?

This list is a compilation from multiple references featuring vascular plants native to the Darby Plains of west-central Ohio. The focus is on prairie species, and on those found in associated wetlands within the Darby Plains. Alien species, and other plant species that might be native to Ohio but not the Darby Plains, are not included. Key species that are indicative of the Darby Plains are noted as Darby Plains Prairie Indicative, or “DPI.” The listed species were identified as “prairie” species because they were recorded at remnant prairie sites in the Darby Plains by at least one of the listed references and are known to prefer prairie habitat in Ohio. If a species is listed as “prairie” by Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks (https://www.Metro on its Battelle-Darby Metro Park (BDMP) or Prairie Oaks Metro Park (POMP) Biotic Survey lists, or if also considered by the other references as typically found in prairie habitat, such as King (1981), it is considered a “prairie” species for this list. If Metro Parks in its BDMP list listed the species as “bluff” habitat, it was included as “prairie.”
Not all species listed are considered “prairie” species. Those that are not are not noted as “DPI.” Some plants not considered DPI but were recorded at prairie remnant sites by the sources listed in the spreadsheet and references. Associated wetland plants within the Darby Plains are included and marked as Wetland – “W.” Therefore, some wildflowers that might be found in other habitats beyond “prairie” sites are included, as well as some grasses, sedges, trees and shrubs. Again, only plants consider to be predominantly found in Darby Plains prairie sites, are native to the Darby Plains, recorded by parties familiar with prairie sites and the Darby Plains, and dependent on prairie conditions (both remnant sites and restored prairies, such as restored prairie areas at Metro Parks) are listed as DPI.

To compile this list, an extensive search of the relevant published (print and Internet) literature was conducted, and the list of DPI species was compiled from these sources and from Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks (Metro Parks) records. Wetland species within the Darby Plains were compiled from Metro Parks records, specifically those for Battelle-Darby Metro Park and Prairie Oaks Metro Park. Much of the published literature includes species recorded from Darby Plains prairie remnant sites (e.g., W. Pearl King, Milford Center prairie, Bigelow Cemetery and Smith Cemetery preserves). For descriptions and plant lists for these sites, see Allison Cusick and Roger Troutman’s “The Prairie Survey Project” (published by the Ohio Biological Survey) and Stuckey and Reese’s (eds.) “The Prairie Peninsula – In the Shadow of Transeau: Proceedings of the Sixth North American Prairie Conference. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 12-17 August 1978.” Ohio Biological Survey, Biological Notes No. 15. (Accessed 3/1/2021).

The Darby Plains is the eastern extension of the “Prairie Peninsula,” and is well known to Ohio botanists. Building on previous work by those such as Edgar Transeau and Robert Gordon, the Ohio Biological Survey described remnant sites of the once extensive prairies in west-central and north-central Ohio. The Darby Plains are predominantly in Union, Madison, and Franklin Counties. The Darby Plains are a major feature of the Big Darby Creek watershed, and a description of the Darby Plains is found in:
Ohio EPA. 2004. Biological and Water Quality Study of the Big Darby Creek Watershed, 2001/2002. (accessed 11/27/2020)


The nomenclature used here in Columns A, B and C, both for scientific and common names, follows that employed by iNaturalist, a widely used social media site for the aggregation of biological observations. That site uses secondary sources for scientific names. For seed plants that is Kew’s Plants of the World Online (POWO) ( The common names are provided by the iNaturalist curators. In this report, for species that have recently undergone scientific name changes and thus might be better known by the superseded names, we include them as “synonyms.” Ohio FQAI: Scientific and first common names generally follow those names in the Ohio FQAI. Andreas, Barbara K., John J. Mack, and James S. McCormac. 2004. “Floristic quality assessment index (FQAI) for vascular plants and mosses for the State of Ohio” Updated spreadsheet (2014): The “Scientific name (Ohio FQAI)” and “Common name (Ohio FQAI)” nomenclature in Columns D and E follow the scientific and first common names in the Ohio FQAI: Andreas, Barbara K., John J. Mack, and James S. McCormac. 2004. “Floristic quality assessment index (FQAI) for vascular plants and mosses for the State of Ohio” Updated spreadsheet (2014): Sources used for “Synonym/former/alternate name” in Column F were obtained from these sources: Botanic Garden of Texas; Illinois Wildflowers; Missouri Botanical Garden; PLANTS Database, NRCS, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Wikipedia

The following reference provides many descriptions of relevant plant species in this prairie species list:
Lowden, Richard. 1997. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Franklin County. (Online Version) LINK

Ecological Indicators
(ODNR Status, Darby Plains Prairie Indicative, and Wetland Affinity)

Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Rare Native Ohio Plants 2020-21 Status List – E Endangered Species; T Threatened Species; X Presumed Extirpated Species; P Potentially Threatened Species The above list includes no federally-listed species (there are none known in the area).

DPI – Darby Plains Prairie Indicative species; commonly accepted by Ohio botanists as representative species of the Darby Plains prairie.

W – Wetland-specific species; these are species that are wetland and not “prairie” species, but found in wetlands within the Darby Plains.

Coefficients of Conservatism

C o C: Coefficient of Conservatism, from Andreas, Barbara K., John J. Mack, and James S. McCormac. 2004. Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) for vascular plants and mosses for the State of Ohio. “The C of C is an ordinal weighting factor of the degree of conservatism (or fidelity) displayed by that species in relation to all other species of the region (Wilhelm and Ladd 1988; Wilhelm and Masters 1995; Andreas and Lichvar 1995). … “Each C of C is an expression of the taxon’s autecology as it relates to its fidelity to narrow or broad habitat requirements with respect to all other taxa in the flora. Assignment of a numerical value was based on the authors’ collective extensive field experience in Ohio …” and herbarium specimens. “Plants with a wide range of ecological tolerances, and non-native taxa, were assigned a rank of 0.” “Rankings of 1 and 2 were applied to taxa thatare widespread and not typical of (or only marginally typical of) a particular community.” “Plants with an intermediate range of ecological tolerances were assigned average coefficients (3, 4, or 5). These taxa may be found in a stable phase of some native community, but persist under some disturbance.” “Rankings of 6 to 8 are applied to those plants that typify stable or near “climax” conditions.” “Plants with a narrow range of ecological tolerances were assigned high coefficients. Rankings of 9 and 10 were reserved for those plants that exhibit relatively high degrees of fidelity to a narrow range of habitat requirements.”


“AB” =  Andrew Boose, Metro Parks, Personal communication
“ALG” =  Andrew Lane Gibson’s  Darby Plains web page (2014) LINK
“AS” = POMP 2018 Anthony Sasson – recorded in 2018 at Prairie Oaks Metro Park – unpublished
“BDMP” =  Battelle-Darby Metro Park – “2020 BDC Biotic Survey List” compiled by Metro Parks
“CK” = Charles King’s  Darby Plains prairies article (1981) LINK
“JK” = Jeff Knoop’s  vegetation of the Pearl King Savannah article (1984) LINK
“JM” = Jack McDowell. 1995. Big Darby Ck. Terrestrial Community Survey. 22 pp. Prepared for TNC
“JMc” = Jim McCormac’s  Pearl King Savannah web page (2012)  LINK
“JW” = John Watts Restoring Ohio’s Historical Landscapes/W. Pearl King Prairie Savanna
“JW/AB” = John Watts (at Pearl King) with A. Boose personal communication 5/5/2016
“MA” = Howard ‘Mac’ Albin Metro Parks records
Metro Parks Darby Plains Prairie Restoration Plantings*
“OPN” = Ohio Prairie Nursery – “Darby Plains mix” 2020
“POMP” = Prairie Oaks Metro Park – “2020 POK Biotic Survey List” compiled by Metro Parks
“PSP” = Allison Cusick and Roger Troutman. 1978 Prairie Survey Project**
“WC” = William Carr’s 1981 Bigelow Cemetery vascular plants article LINK

*Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks Darby Plains Prairie Restoration Plantings: A list prepared by Metro Parks resulting from mechanical and manual seed harvesting and cleaning of the native Darby Plains species. Unpublished, available from Metro Parks, Resource Management.

**Allison Cusick and Roger Troutman. 1978.** The Prairie Survey Project: A Summary of Data to Date. Ohio Biological Survey Informative Circular No. 10. 36 pages. Multiple sites.

Prairie Species Cultivation

“Metro Parks” in red means this prairie species is harvested by Metro Parks for planting in prairie restoration areas of the parks, as of 2021 per Andrew Boose. “OPN” means that the species was available for sale from Ohio Prairie Nursery, as of 2020. As of 2021, OPN ( no longer listed a seed mix described as “Darby Plains” as one of its products, and do not identify any species of their products as “Darby Plains.” Other sources of Oho and Darby Plains native prairie species may be found at the following sites: Please note that plants and seeds obtained from these commercial sources might not be of Darby Plains provenance or genotype, i.e., the plant might be the same species, but it was originally found and/or grown somewhere other than the Darby Plains.