In 2010 we welcomed you to Northwest Ohio, home of the Oak Openings Region, Great Black Swamp, Firelands Prairies, and alvar plant communities of the Columbus and Put-in-Bay cuestas. The area's flora is intensely shaped by geologic features left after the Pleistocene retreat of the Laurentide Glacier paired with plant communities from the North, West and East converging on this spot in response to varying climate.
The highlight community of the area is the oak savannas and prairies of the Oak Openings Region, a sandy beach ridge left by an early glacial lake. The region hosts remnants of boreal plants and tallgrass prairie community adapted to low nutrient soils, left behind as climate warmed and cooled. We will visit during the bloom of the blue lupine, host plant for the Federally Endangered Karner blue butterfly, which are but two in a cast of thousands - the greatest density of imperiled species within Ohio’s border.
On lake plain clays, also left by the early glacial lakes, formed the Great Black Swamp, which was a barrier to westward migration through the area. Up until about the 1850’s, progress of a mile per day on “corduroy roads” made of logs with a team of horses was considered a good steady pace. However, settlers soon figured out they could fire the clay into tiles and were able to quickly drain the swamp over the next couple decades. We will look at the remnant plant communities in this feature, which will have just passed their peak bloom among spring woodland plants, but will still offer plenty of blooming phlox, trillium and red baneberry.
The final grouping of plant communities that we will examine formed on shallow tills over limestone and dolomite to the east of the Toledo area around Sandusky, Ohio. A series of rock ridges and seeping groundwater-formed tufa rock set the ecological tone for plant communites known as alvar or limestone barrens. Where water flows more frequently, fen communities have formed. The highlight plant during this time is the Federally Threatened Lakeside daisy, which can be found on both Kelley’s Island and in mine recovery sites near Lakeside, Ohio. A return trip in August will delight you to see these communities in peak blossom, however, you’ll enjoy the many sedges, rushes and bryophytes that are identifiable year round.