Deep Woods, the Appalachian Gametophyte, and Ohio Geobotany

Substrate-associated Plants

These plants are known from the Geobotany article to be grown in the Eastern part of Ohio, in limey areas.

This is an Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). The funny thing about these is that the top branch droops, which prevents it from holding a full “Christmas Tree”-type form

This is a Sourwood ( Oxydendrum arboreum). These trees are used in things like axe handles, wagon sled runners, and pollinator gardens

This is a Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus ). Its bark is full of tannic acid which is used for tanning skins.

This is a Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida). It actually has wood that was used to build German radio towers.

Biotic Threats to Forest Health

The Eastern Hemlock runs into a potential health hazard known as Wood Decay. It is a fungus that infects in moist areas, that just essentially eats trees away from the inside out once it reaches exposed inside wood. Trees have their own natural resistance to it such as bark or sap. There are simple ways to manually get rid of it such as typical fungicide. We’ve known about wood decay, estimably since the invention of the microscope a couple hundred years ago.

This is a butternut. It has its own natural health hazard as well. Believe it or not, it’s another fungus, this one known as butternut canker. To be able to perpetuate a fungal infection, the wood in the trees has to be holding water at a level that surpasses its saturation level. The disease also eats away at the wood, leaving behind what looks like burn marks. It can be stopped with standard fungicide, and also can be caught in time by cutting off infected limbs before the infection reaches the trunk.

Appalachian Gametophyte

If I was describing it I would say things along the lines of “green, mat-like gametophyte with an appearance similar to that of liverwort or hornwort. Sometimes can be found alongside those things”. The main difference between this and the old version is that this one is devoid of the described sporophyte. There are no longer observed sporophytes on the Appalachian Gametophyte.

  1. The more common name for the Vittaria appalachiana is known as the Appalachian Shoestring Fern. Its most notable trait is its ability to survive, exist, and reproduce asexually as a gametophyte.
  2. Fern gemmae are much larger than spores, which is predicted to impair their long-distance wind-related travel. Instead, they rely on wind (in shorter distances), water, and animals. The Kimmerer and Young contribution acknowledged the travel of the gemmae  by way of slug. Not my preferred mode of transportation, personally.
  3. It is theorized that this plant originally spread out by way of sporophytes, then over time, as the areas became glaciated,  the sporophytes were not able to be as useful, and it was able to survive through reproducing asexually
  4. According to the article, the idea of long distance dispersal from a tropical source can be rejected ” based on past allozyme studies ( Farrar, 1990 ), as well as the truncated range of V. appalachiana in the southern portion of New York. Additionally, the monophyly of V. appalachiana in our plastid analysis would seem to indicate that dispersal from the tropics occurred just once, although the situation is somewhat more complicated in our nuclear tree, where one V. appalachiana allele is resolved outside the larger V. appalachiana clade.

Plants with Winged Stems

While we were out exploring the lovely Deep Woods, I was tasked with finding a pair of plants that had winged stems

This first one, believe it or not, is known as a wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia). It is a species of crownbeard. It is a weed plant that grows in much of Ohio and can be a real nuisance in gardening.

This is known as a Wrinkleleaf Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa). It is related to the sunflower and is mostly used as an ornamental garden plant.

Miscellaneous Other Observations

We saw plants that fit outside of the above categories as well!

For whatever reason, I cannot crop my photos on here so these next few will be unedited

This one is not exactly a standout candidate but its always fun to talk about how everywhere they are. This is a White Oak (Quercus alba). There are toxic compounds found in QQercus alba that can affect mammals like cats, dogs, and livestock. It is commonly used for construction, and is too big to be used for anything ornamental.

This is a Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis) . They are also called bead ferns. The name Sensitive Fern comes from the fact that they usually die during the first frost of the year. They are used in cultivation and landscaping. If it is growing in shade, it doesn’t require the same amount of water in the soil.

This is known as Delicate fern moss (Thuidium delicatulum). This moss carpets the ground and grows on pretty much anything out in nature. It is commonly used by birds for nesting material and other (tinier) animals use it for shelter. It is tolerant of temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit.

As you can see from the picture, this is a Wintercreeper euonymus (Euonymus fortunei) . It is a shrub that grows around trees and other taller plants, due to its ability to grow like a vine. That is a trait shared amongst this and other plants like it, called Spindle trees. It originated in East Asia, but it has made its way here and is known as an invasive plant.