Plants of the Olentangy River Wetland Research Park
The Olentangy River Wetland Research park (ORWRP) is a 52-acre ecological area that is used for research and is home to the SENR aquatic program. According to this website, the area consists of an oxbow wetland, two experimental wetland basins, a mesocosm pond, and a bottomland hardwood forest. The main purpose of the wetland is for research, training, and outreach pertaining to the water resources at the university. In June of 2008, the ORWRP was named the USA’s 24th Ramsar Wetland of International Importance due to the extensive research done there and the diverse flora and fauna.
Let’s get into some plants, shall we?
The first plant I would like to introduce to you is the amur honeysuckle, or Lonicera maackii. The amur honeysuckle is a large shrub that can grow up to 6 meters in height. According to this website, the amur honeysuckle was originally planted for soil erosion control and wildlife cover, however, it has spread into natural areas and can now be considered invasive.
The next plant I would like to introduce has quite the name, the American bladdernut (Staphylea trifolia). Like the honeysuckle, the American bladdernut is also a large shrub. The unusual name comes from the bladder-like seed pod, which can be seen broken open in the second photo.
Up next is the wild pear, Pyrus communis. This is a tree that contains very glossy leaves and edible fruits! Unfortunately, this tree seemed pretty young and was not yet bearing any fruits. This tree attracts butterflies with its fragrant, white flowers.
This is a graybark grape (Vitis cinerea)! The berries are eaten by various species of wildlife, including songbirds, wild turkeys, raccoons, and deer. Some species of songbirds including the cardinal and brown thrasher use the long strips of bark to build their nests, according to this website.
Aren’t these flowers just beautiful! This is the biennial beeblossom, Oenothera gaura.
This is white snakeroot, or Ageratina altissima. The second picture is my favorite from the entire day, because it captures a beautiful little bee friend doing what he does best: pollinating! If you look closely, you can see a rather large pollen sac on the bee’s side. Now that’s one busy bee!
EEK! Poison Ivy!
Pictured above is something you want to stay far, far away from: poison ivy! The scientific name says it all, Toxicodendron radicans. Some identifying characteristics are as follows: three leaves and white berries.