A creative Facebook friend (also a fern scientist) saw a photo I posted of the Appalachian gametophyte, and he wrote the following poem.

–get poison ivy!–
(credit 60 pts. due Sunday June 3)

Hats off to everybody for picking a great site for your botanical surveys! For this assignment, let’s start a new page devoted to the botanical survey called “Plants of ___” (fill in the blank). Add the following content:


  1. A paragraph describing the site.
  2. A map showing the location of the site.
  3. Plants! Provide both common and scientific names, the latter written properly in terms of capitalization and italics. Photo-document two new trees, two shrubs or woody vines, and two members of the plant families we are learning this week and last week (different families).
  4. For at least 3 of the plants, include some interesting “fun facts” about their natural history such as human uses for the plant, animal interactions (host plant for certain moths, for example), conspicuous floral displays, etc.
  5. One more thing; get poison-ivy! Oh, I don’t mean it that way. Locate some (either at your survey site or elsewhere), photograph it, and set forth the features useful in identifying the nasty stuff.


PART TWO: FLOWERS AND FRUITS — 6 more plants (20 pts.)

This week we will apply and extend the flower and fruit analysis skills that we learned last week. At your survey site or any other convenient location, discover 3 wild (not cultivated) plants in flower and 3 wild (not cultivated) plants bearing fruit for a total of 6 different plants. Identify the FLOWERING species using your Newcombs Wildflower Guide. Photograph each one.

The three flowering plants must each belong to a different family. The three fruiting plants must each be a different fruit type.

Provide the following information about each plant:

  1. common and scientific names for the flowering species, the latter written properly in terms of capitalization and italics.
  2. a description of the flower in terms of the features we covered in class: symmetry, fusion of parts, numbers of parts, relative insertion of flower parts (hypogyngous, perigynous or epigynous), gynoecium type (unicarpellate, syncarpous, or apocarpous).
  3. where you saw the plant
  4. what type of inflorescence the plant has (for all 6 plants)
  5. have fun with this; be creative!


At your site you probably have a number of mosses and lichens growing. For the moss(es), if it is possible for you to non-destructively and without offending the property managers to collect a small (less-than-finger-sized) piece of moss (enough for lab identification), please do so, and bring them to lab this week. If you CANNOT gather moss from your field sites, get them from some other location –any other location.

For the LICHEN(S), let’s not collect them (because lichens are too slow growing and often are tightly adherent to the substrate). ID it in the field using your “Common Lichens of Ohio” field guide with the wonderful amazing spectacular terrific photos and snap your own pics. Post them on your “Plants of ____” web page. This ought to be fun!

(Trip to Cedar Bog that isn’t a Bog)
(credit 15 pts. due Wednesday May 30)

Cedar Bog that isn’t a Bog

Great work at the prairie and the fen! The blogging assignment for this week will be added on to your “FIELD TRIPS” web page. Add and appropriate heading and below it include the following:

1) a brief description of a tallgrass prairie, the areas in Ohio where they may be found, and a few plants (simply named) that may be found there.

2) a brief description of the Cedar Bog fen and swamp forest., the unique ecological conditions there and what causes them (geology).

3) the most important part: the discoveries you made fulfilling the “scavenger hunt” assignment (in most cases two plants that met certain criteria). For the two plants, include your PHOTOS of the plants, how to recognize them, and at least one additional outside reference natural history fact about the plant.

(credit 50 pts due Friday May 25)

Circle Falls at Deep Woods

On our amazing field trip to Deep Woods we saw many things, including rain, then sun, then rain again and then sun again and then rain again and then sun and then rain and then sun. An outhouse with a view. Of the rain. And the sun. The Appalachian gametophyte, sword moss, butternut, American chestnut, and many many ferns! Each of you were given a web site/blog assignment that pertains to one aspect what we saw there. Please do the following to earn 50 pts. and spread the word about botany!

  1. Add to your existing “FIELD TRIPS” page by creating a new heading called “Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany.”
  2. For your individual web site/blogging assignment, insert the relevant photo(s) with a caption and state what plants are beings depicted, and what features. Provide some additional natural history/ecology information about the plants and the feature you are describing.
  3. Read the article “Linking Geology and Botany: a new approach” by Jane Forsyth handed out Monday and answer the questions that were also handed out (due in written form Friday May 25).
  4. Set forth 4 instances of plants that that you observed on our field trips that are consistent with the patterns that Forsyth explains with respect to acid sandstone places like the Hocking Hills (Deep Woods) compared with an eastern Ohio calcareous site (Battelle Darby Metro Park).
  5. Read the American Journal of Botany article handed out Monday entitled “Unraveling the Origin of the Appalachian Gametophyte” (Hooray! Ohio Plants in Research!) and answer the questions posed on the reading review question set also handed out Monday (due in written form Friday May 25).
  6. Describe the environmental conditions at Deep Woods where we saw the Appalachian Gametophyte.

(credit: 25 pts due Sunday May 20)

I wonder why it’s called “spiderwort.”

On our amazing field trip to Battelle Darby Metro Park we saw many things, including stem and leaf modifications, smelly plants, medicinal plants, plant/animal interactions and more. Each of you were given a web site/blog assignment that pertains to one aspect what we saw there. Please do the following to earn 25 pts. and spread the word about botany!

  1. Make a new web page called “FIELD TRIPS” (by cloning a previous page so that you have one column, no sidebars, no comments, etc.
  2. Insert the relevant photo(s) with a caption and state what plants are beings depicted, and what fesature. Provide some additional natural history/ecology information about the plants and the feature you are describing.
  3. Have fun!


Effective stewardship of natural areas depends upon an accurate accounting of the biotic resources, particularly the vegetation, present on a site. The development of a site-specific plant species list, along with a written description of the plant communities that are there (including relevant information about the human and natural ecology of the plants) is often desired by natural resource agencies, landowners, and environmental organizations. This substantial (100 point) assignment is to perform and document a botanical survey like the ones performed by professional field botanists engaged in environmental assessment.
Because they are close to the OSU campus and of great ecological importance and human interest due to their roles as urban islands of biodiversity, we are focusing on the plants of several named ravines through which flow tributary streams to the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers. We’ll also study tracts immediately adjacent to those rivers.
Task: Visit the ravine or riverside property at least three times at 1-2 week intervals during May and record separately the trees (10 or more species), shrubs and lianas (i.e., woody vines; 5 or more species), and various herbaceous plants (vines, forbs, graminoids, pteridophytes, and bryophytes; 25 or more species) that are identifiable on each trip (for a grand total of 40 or more species.

(touch-screen navigate using 2 fingers) 


Collecting Plants (not): Ideally, when one does a botanical survey, it includes the collection and preservation of a “voucher” specimen of each species, to be stored in an herbarium, that constitutes an independently verifiable confirmation of the presence of the plant at that location. For various reasons involving time, cost, educational goals, conservation, and behavioral norms in urban natural areas, we’re not going to perform extensive collecting or prepare herbarium specimens as part of this project. Most of the plants will be identifiable on site using the textbooks for the course (Newcomb’s Wildflowers, and Peterson’s Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs) as well as the various fern and moss manuals in the lab, not to mention Gleason and Cronquist. “Gleason and Cronquist.” I told you not to mention Gleason and Cronquist!

However, for the purposes of identification of plants in difficult groups such as graminoids, some wildflowers, and bryophytes (or, for that matter, anything you don’t have the means to ID using the books you have with you), if and only if it can be done in a 100% non-harmful way, you should consider doing some very minor, non-destructive “snip” (not uprooting) collecting of a small portion of such plants only as needed to adequately identify them. Place the little stem portion or an individual leaf and/or flower in a plastic bag (for vascular plants) or a paper sack (bryophytes) and look at them in the lab right away. Your TA will be happy to assist you in the identification of challenging specimens.


A full and complete botanical survey includes the following:

1. Precise location information, including area, geographic coordinates, aerial photographic and USGS topo or Google map figures.

2. Description of the environment in terms of land use, extent of development, disturbance.

3. A narrative, i.e., written as paragraphs, (not a list; that comes later) description of the various plant communities and zones within them. Examples of the plant communities might be roadside, wooded area, streambank. Examples of the zones might be ground cover, shrub layer, canopy.

4. Species list. This must be sorted (i.e., in order) first by MAJOR PLANT GROUP (bryophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms, flowering plants; then ALPHABETICALLY BY FAMILY, and finally; ALPHABETICALLY BY SPECIES. Species must include both scientific name (including author) and common name. Also mention the plant’s growth form, whether it is native or introduced, and, if native, its “coefficient of conservatism” from the 2004 OEPA Floristic Quality Assessment Inventory. Finally, indicate the plant’s status at that location in terms of commonness, and habitat.

5. For at least 20 of your 40+ species recorded, include some interesting “fun facts” about their natural history such as human uses for the plant, animal interactions (host plant for certain moths, for example), conspicuous floral displays, etc.

Magnoliophyta (angiosperms)
Aristolochiaceae (the birthwort family)

Asarum canadense L. wild ginger. Native ground-cover vine. CC=6. In scattered but dense patches in shady areas. Wild ginger smells similar to the spice ginger, but is unrelated and is not recommended for consumption. Its solitary, foul-smelling reddish-brown flowers are located at ground level and are probably pollinated by flies. Like many forest herbs, the seeds have oil and sugar-containing eliasomes attached, and are dispersed by ants.

6. Illustrations: Include at least 10 photos, inserted into the text where appropriate: 2 (or more) wide views of the site; 8 (or more) close-ups of representative plants.

7. References: Cite the identification manuals and various books and web sources used for the ecological notes. Use any standard style of citation you prefer; just be consistent.


Due Wednesday May 16 (credit 25 pts.)

Tree Assignment Content Guidelines: For context and inspiration, read this article in a recent New York Times (LINK). Cite and expand upon the points that Popkin makes in your tree page. Isn’t it a nice coincidence that the species illustrated –eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) –is the same that tree we started off our trees lab with? (Great minds work in similar ways.)

This week we will apply and extend the tree identification skills that we learned last week. Go out into the world and discover 8 wild (not cultivated) broad-leaved (not conifers) trees. Identify them to species using your Peterson’s Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs. At least half of them must belong to different genera than the 8 we learned in class. Photograph your 8 trees close enough up (close up enough?) (up close enough??)  to see the features that allow it to be recognized as what it is. Provide one or two photos of each tree –perhaps one showing the overall shape and form, and definitely one showing leaf details. Provide the following information about each tree:

  1. common and scientific names, the latter written properly in terms of capitalization and italics.
  2. a written description of the pertinent ID features: leaf arrangement, complexity, and other traits that, taken together, distinguish that particular species.
  3. where you saw the tree.
  4. for each tree, provide at least one interesting statement about the tree’s human or natural ecology that you hadn’t known before. Mention the source of your information and, in the case of internet sources, provide a hyperlink to that source.
  5. have fun with this; be creative, and be sure to compare your experiences with the ones recounted by Gabriel Popkin in the “Tree Blindness” article you read.

Tree Assignment WordPress Guidelines: We want want pages (not posts) and we want those pages to be formatted neat and simple just like our HOME page (single column with no sidebars; info bar hidden; page title hidden; comments and trackbacks not allowed). Therefore please do NOT create a fresh new page for each new topic. Instead, “clone” your HOME page, and rename it, as follows.

Clone your home page by using the “Copy to a new draft option at the top of the page while you are in “edit” mode. (Note: this can also be done in the “Pages” section of the Dashboard, but this way is a bit simpler.)

Change the name of the page and it will automatically change the URL (“permalink”) to whatever you named it, in this case “TREES.” Don’t forget to “Publish.”

Delete what’s there and add new stuff being sure to use the text selection options (Header 2 for headers and Paragraph for everything else works well.) Note the options for boldfaceitalics, and the ability to add links.

Adding media (photos) is pretty easy; just click the “Add Media” button and find the photo you want to add.

Add Media.

You can upload photos of any size (pixel dimensions) and WordPress automatically creates a set of lower-resolution versions. Note the options displayed on the right-hand side of the media page. In most instances you will want to use “Large” size (800 px wide), centered. You can add a caption when you upload, or afterwards while you are editing your page.


Due Sunday May 13 (credit: 10 pts.)

Let’s begin this adventure by launching our web sites. Your web site is a subdomain of this very web site (www.ohioplants.org). The Universal; Resource Locator (URL) for your site is the genus of one of Kali’s favorite plants (dot) ohioplants.org. For convenience, see below, where there are links to your sites. To EDIT your site, simply enter into the browser bar your site name with “/wp-admin” added to it. To log in, enter the username and password you were given on the first day of class. Welcome!

Personalize your HOME page:
Add a header image and introduce yourself!

Header image. Navigate Dashboard -> Appearance -> Header. Take or obtain a photo you like, crop/resize it to the recommended pixel dimensions, and put it in place of the beautiful mountain scenery that sadly doesn’t look anything like Ohio. (Details below.)


Add a new image, following the prompts. The image adding procedure allows cropping, so the header picture doesn’t have to already be 1100 x 200 pixels, but you might want to start with an image with those dimensions.

Introduce yourself on your homepage.  The editor has two options –“visual” and “text.” “Visual” is quite WYSIWYG and works like a word processor, and is the mode you’ll probably always use unless you really like hypertext markup language. Delete the text that is currently on your home page. Please do not delete this page and make a new one, but rather edit (i.e., add content to) this page.

Add a little (or a lot, if you are so inclined) to this page. Suggestions: your academic and personal interests and career goals, a definition of  “Botany,” what you hope to learn from this class, etc. Have fun with this!


Clone your HOME page when you make new pages.

Note: For all the succeeding web assignments, you will make separate pages (PAGES, not POSTS!) by going to “all pages” on the dashboard (two little pages icon) and creating a “clone” of your home page. Because the home page is formatted in the preferred manner (one column, no sidebars, no comments), please do not create new pages from scratch. Instead, clone your homepage, rename it, and replace what’s there with your new content.