Fowler Woods is a 187-acre, state nature preserve located in Richland Coundy in northeast Ohio. Originally the preserve featured a handicap-accessible, 1 ¼-mile boardwalk, but in 2014 much of the boardwalk was closed to the public due to safety concerns. The boardwalk passes through mature forest, buttonbush swamps, and an area that was once farmland, but is now reverting to forest. Sadly the lower, wetland region within this area that is now barred to the public. The preserve used to be one Read more ➜
"What are these flower petals?" I asked Deb. They were all over the trail; large petals striped with white, green, and orange. It was mid-May and we were spending a week at Pipestem Resort State Park in West Virginia. It was a hikers paradise. We spent every day on a different trail and that day we were following a trail from the lodge on the rim of Bluestone Gorge all the way down to the river. The striped flower petals were everywhere. Deb didn't know what they were. We kept a lookout for a flower Read more ➜
During a recent hike to Trimmer Arch, I was startled when my peripheral vision caught sight of "smoke" rising up around my ankles. When I stopped and looked down, I realized that it wasn't smoke, but instead clouds of spores.
These ripe spores were being released by ground cedar. The spores produced by it and other members of its family have an exceptionally high fat content. People have utilized these spores industrially over the years, and in this capacity they are referred to collectively Read more ➜
For some time I had been wanting to learn more about ferns, so I took advantage of a workshop on fern identification being held at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve in Fairfield County, Ohio. Wahkeena is a great place to learn about ferns since 29 species of fern grow there (Wahkeena's official blog publishes a list of their local fern species). Naturalist Tom Shisler led the workshop which is called Focus on Ferns. In this post I'm going to introduce you to a number of common ferns found in Ohio by Read more ➜
Before the trees leaf out in the spring, tiny wildflowers emerge taking advantage of the extra sunlight that reaches the forest floor. This past April we searched for wildflowers at four Ohio State Nature Preserves. Two were in Champaign County (Cedar Bog and Davey Woods) and two were in Fairfield County (Wahkeena and Shallenberger). Below are some of the flowers that we saw.
The marsh marigold pictured above are beautiful, yellow flowers, but the picture does not convey Read more ➜
In an earlier post on poison ivy, we noted that birds are untroubled by poison ivy. In fact the vine's berries are an important food source during the cold, winter months. According to an article by Penn State University (linked at the end of this post), over 60 species of bird have been observed eating poison ivy berries. While out for a walk I recently noticed a northern cardinal feasting on them.
I'm seeing a lot of poison ivy berries this time of year. You might not recognize Read more ➜
I don't know about you, but I used to think that all conifers were evergreen. Not true! The Bald Cypress is a conifer that loses its needle-like foliage every winter becoming, well, bald. But if you catch sight of one in the autumn, it's a glorious, coppery-red.
Bald Cypress in Autumn
Bald Cypress in Other Seasons
The two trees in the foreground below are Bald Cypress photographed in December.
The two trees in front of the boardwalk below are also Bald Cypress. Read more ➜
I'm going to refer to a pawpaw as a "tree", but it could just as well be thought of as being a really large shrub. A mature specimen typically grows to a height of 25 feet, reaching its full height in about 20 years. According to Wikipedia the trunk can grow to be as large as 12 inches in diameter, but all the trunks that I've seen have been smaller than that. Because it is a relatively short tree with a thin trunk, its wood is not suitable for timber. However its fruit is the largest produced by Read more ➜
In the spring we published a post describing Gallagher Fen State Nature Preserve in Clark County, Ohio. Since that publication, we learned that the preserve has an impressive variety of summer flowers. To view these we returned on June 29th and on August 11th of this year and took photos of many of the flowers that we saw. The photos can be seen below with the date each was taken in the caption to give some idea of when the flower is in bloom.
As the preserve's name suggests, it contains something Read more ➜
When you think of a locale for cactus, Ohio doesn't generally spring to mind. Texas perhaps, certainly Arizona, but not Ohio. Yet there is a species of cactus that not only grows in Ohio, but is native to the state.
Eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) is native to Ohio growing in sandy soil in a few select places in northwest and southern Ohio. Deb and I lived in Austin, Texas for several years and frequently saw prickly pear cactus. It never occurred to us we'd find it in Ohio. Read more ➜