Deep Woods, THE Appalachian Gametophyte and Ohio Geobotany

Sandstone Acid Lovers

Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana)

Chestnut Oaks in history has been used for making leather tanning solutions due to the high tannin concentration in its bark. It also has rather large acorns and as so is a nutritious food source for animals.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Pioneers used the tree at one time to make teas from the needles, The bark is also edible raw and otherwise as well as able to be ground into flour. The mushroom Ramaria flavosaponaria is an associated organism of this tree.  The Biologic Threat of this tree is the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) which sucks the sap out of the Eastern Hemlock but, is running rampant due to a lack of predators and host resistance. Current control by forest level is releasing S. tsugae a black lady beetle which is a predator of the Adelgid as well as using safe chemicals on or in the trees to kill the insects. Research coming from the Northern Research Station on the Adelgid is focused on detecting the spread and control of A. tsugae.

Huckleberry-Blueberry (Vaccinium ssp.)

This plant is just labeled as any of the subspecies. Human usage of eating is obvious with Blueberries and cranberries being used heavily and cultivated by the ton. And these berries are very important as a food source for many animals.

Pink Lady Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

These pretty flowers are cultivated for planting in yards and are difficult being so acidophilic requiring below pH 5. Where even tap water can create bad conditions for its growth and survival. It however has been hybridized to tolerate greater pH ranges. It is the state flower of New Hampshire!

Biologic Threats to Plants

Butternut (Juglans cinerea)

Butternuts suffer from Butternut canker caused by the fungus Ophiognomonia clavigignenti-juglandacearum. It tears the bark apart by growing under the bark and leave large ungrowing and ‘dead’ patches that do not grow more and can be fatal for the tree. The only control currently is to cull the infected trees and screen seeds for infection. Research is being done to look into the merit of not culling infected trees to let those resistant pass on that resistance to their progeny.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

The Biologic Threat of this tree is the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) which sucks the sap out of the Eastern Hemlock but, is running rampant due to a lack of predators and host resistance. Current control by forest level is releasing S. tsugae a black lady beetle which is a predator of the Adelgid as well as using safe chemicals on or in the trees to kill the insects. Research coming from the Northern Research Station on the Adelgid is focused on detecting the spread and control of A. tsugae.

THE Appalachian Gametophyte (Vittaria appalachiana)

A gametophyte only fern that can be mistaken for moss or algae. Is hidden inside of sandstone caves. It is completely the gametophyte stage and reproduces by fragmenting pieces of its gammetophyte into gemmae which do not go far so it will be in localized and dense patches on cave walls. The only thing I added not exactly mentioned was that also moss could be a mistaken ID. As well as saying they are usually in dense patches.

Uniqueness

It is unique and remarkable for the fact it never has been witnessed in the sporophyte stage like other ferns and reproduces solely via gemmae.

Gemmae Spread

Gemmae cannot spread far due to their large size compared to the normal fern dispursal method of spores meaning it does not go far from already colonized areas. It can be spread via wind still being less than a milimeter in size. Water can also transport it for some difference. Animal dispursal could be used such as slugs as some moss gemmae do.

Stuck in Gametophyte

The fern seems to have lost its sporophyte and gotten stuck as a gametophyte sometime during or before the last glacial event. The supporting evidence is that its distribution (or lack therof) matches closely to the boundary of the last glacier where it is only found in the unglaciated areas. It also is found in some caves but not in new caves or carvings even though being very close.

Sustaining Population

It is unlikely that the current populations are from a long-distance tropical spore source. It is more likely these are ancestral populations that have been in these locations since before the last ice age event and have been trapped in these caves since the loss of their sporophytes. The best evidence is that they are not spreading to other locations. If there was a long-distance spore source it would be more likely the nearby and similar caves and new carvings would be colonized but are not leading to the most likely answer being that they are being self-sustained.

*All information provided by Dr, Klips in Carmen Canvas  being a part from the American Journal of Botany “Unraveling the Origin of the Appalachian Gametophyte” by Pinson and Schuettpelz in 2016. As well as “Flora os West Virginia” by Strausbaugh and Core.*

 The Extra Cast

Snakeskin Liverwort or Great Scented Liverwort (Conocephalum conicum)

This liverwort is very interesting being one of the largest thalloid liverworts getting up to 20cm long.  They also live up to their name of being very strongly scented (I thought it smelled like chocolate). The liverwort also has a relationship with the fungi C. conicum which colonizes the liverwort’s rhizoids and into the gametophyte.

Multiflora Rose (Rose multiflora)

This invader is very prickly and painful. It is annoying even with the interesting feathered bracts. However goats are great at stamping out this invader and the hips are edible. That however is not enough since it is a noxious weed and is hazardous and as so is aggressively removed root and all. Good news there is a disease starting to affect it called rose rosette disease which can lead this rose into death.

Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

The most interesting thing about this fern is like the other Maidenhair Ferns it has black stipes. It also has a very interesting false indusium which is the leaf curling over itself to cover its sporangia.

Pincushion Moss (Leucobryum glaucum) (Secondary Link)

This moss is very widespread in both Europe and North America. In nature, it is used by many small invertebrates for shelter as well as food if they can resist the toxic substances it contains. Some may even make this moss into an entire lawn (for low maintenance and no mowing) and there are care guides such as this one from The Spruce!