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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cool Plant Discovery on Hocking Campus

I thought for sure that my next blog post would be a good two weeks from now detailing my trip next week to the Ozarks. But you never know what exciting natural wonders might pop up - even on your daily walk to school. In fact, I've been walking the same path to school for a few years and I just now came across an odd looking plant: Black chokecherry (Photinia melanocarpa). According to BONAP and USDA Plants Database, this plant doesn't exist as a native in Athens County; however, it was planted years ago in the nearby Waterloo Wildlife Area, which is also in Athens County, as well as in landscaping. I'm not sure whether or not this plant emerged from a wild seed but it sure is a pretty native plant nonetheless.

What I found most exciting about this is that it has emerged and survived in such harsh growing conditions. This old train trestle also had wild hydrangea (Hydrangea aborescens) - an indicator of rich habitat - growing out of its crevices. That just goes to show that human disturbance is not always a bad thing. Southeastern Ohio's bedrock is sandstone, which is what the foundation of this train trestle is carved out of. The exposed outcrop-like sandstone combined with the shade created by the bridge creates a sort of disjunct habitat for plants that are tolerant to those conditions.