Substrate-Associated Plants

During our Deep Woods field trip in Hocking Hills, we ran across a couple plants who are known for associating with acid sandstone places.

Hemlock

Scientific Name: Tsuga canadensis

Hemlock was one of the trees that we located that prefers to grow in acidic soil, such as the sandstone located in Eastern Ohio. Hemlock bark was originally used for tanning hides. One is also able to make a tea from the twig tips and the inner bark. The bark is also an astringent and was used as a poultice on bleeding wounds. (Linked here)

Sourwood

Scientific name: Oxydendrum arboreum

We encountered the Sourwood during our hike through Hocking Hills, and it is one of our sandstone loving trees. Honey made from the bees that pollinate the flowers of this tree is known to be a great honey. Hikers make a tea from the leaves of this tree. Early settlers chewed the bark to ameliorate mouth pain and brewed tea from its leaves to treat diarrhea, indigestion and dysentery. (Linked here)

Scrub Pine

Scientific Name: Pinus virginiana

Unfortunately we did not encounter this tree on our hike, but it is one of the acidophiles that we may have ran into in Eastern Ohio. This plant is used a lot in Christmas decoration. Its seeds are a typical food source for birds (Linked here).

Mountain Maple

Scientific Name: Acer spicatum

Again we did not run into this tree during our hike, however, it is one that is typically found in sandstone. Mountain maple is a good larval host for butterflies and moths. It is also very important for preventing erosion on stream banks and steep slopes.(Linked)

Biotic Threats to Forest Health

American Chestnut

American chestnuts are currently being affected by a pathogen, which is killing them. This condition is called the chestnut blight. This tree was typically used as a very important lumber, used for cribs as well as coffins. However, its lumber is severely degraded when it is affected with this disease. Chestnut blight is a canker disease. It is called blight because infected branches and stems die quickly, as in a shoot blight. But it doesn’t just infect shoots; it infects branches and stems of any size. The pathogen that causes it is Cryphonectria parasitica. People are working to control chestnut blight through mud-packing the cankers with mud. There are also biological control methods used to get rid of this fungi. One of these biological controls is the mycovirus Cryphonectria hypovirus 1.

Butternut

Butternuts are currently being affected by a necrotrophic fungus known as butternut canker. The fungus is called Ophiognomonia clavigignenti-juglandacearum, which was found as a new species in 1979. In the past, Butternuts bark were used for medicinal purposes, such as skin diseases and gallbladder problems. There is work being done to prevent this through testing and propogating these plants to learn more about the fungi. The Northern Research Station of the USDA is currently working to find genetic markers in trees that may be linked to resistance. (Linked here).

Appalachian Gametophyte

As stated in an excerpt from the Flora of West Virginia, the Appalachian gametophyte is in the fern family. They are known as Trichomanes, or small creeping ferns with finely divided leaves. The scientific name for the Appalachian gametophyte is Vittaria appalachiana. It is notable for having perennial, vegetatively reproducing gametophytes. It never produces mature sporophytes, but reproduces asexually via gemmae.

Fern gemmae are quite large in comparison to spores. Due to this they are considered too large for wind-dispersal. Gemmae are likely dispersed short distances by wind, water, or animals. Evidence was found by Kimmerer and Young that bryophytes have undergone gemmae dispersal by slugs.

The Appalachian Gametophyte has undergone limited dispersal due to these factors. Some evidence for this limited dispersal is that there is no species seen north of the last glacial maximum. Even recently disturbed areas that may seem suitable for the species are typically uninhabited by it if too far away. This suggests that a sporophyte must have first distributed this species. However, the small range of this species in southern New York tells us that the gametophytes lost their ability to produce mature sporophytes before the last Ice Age.

As stated in Unraveling the origin of the Appalachian gametophyte, the current populations of Appalachian gametophytes could not be being sustained by a long-distance dispersal from some tropical sporophyte source. This can be determined due to the small range of species in southern New York, and the monophyly of the species as shown in a plastid analysis that indicates that dispersal from the tropics only occurred once.

Scavenger Hunt

My task for the scavenger hunt was to find two conifers in Deep Woods.

Eastern Hemlock

One of the conifers that we encountered was the Eastern Hemlock, which was also a sandstone-loving tree. This conifer was very abundant along the hiking path that we traveled on.

Northern White Cedar

I encountered the Northern White Cedar right near the path entrance on our Deep Woods Trip. This conifer has good wind-breaking capabilities due to the heavy and dense foliage. Its wood is very durable and light, making for good canoes! (Linked here).