I went on a hike at Griggs Reservoir Park. The park extended along the reservoir located along the Scioto river. Because of this a lot of the species I found were more tolerant of moist soils. The park included some of the upper bank, so there were a few more dry-mesic species that were located at the top of the bank.
This huge leaf is from a sycamore tree(Platanus occidentalis). To me it almost resembles a maple leaf due to its lobes. I found this right along the side of the river, which is a very common location for this species. It is one of the most common stream bank tree species in Ohio. The leaves are alternate, simple, and lobed. Within the lobes the leaves are serrated. The bark is very characteristic of the sycamore. It reminds me of the camouflage pattern commonly found on hunting gear. The bark will peal off in patches giving it this patchy appearance. A cute little tidbit I learned a while back is that the bud is protected and hidden underneath the leaves axil. So when you take off a larger leaf sometimes you can find a little bud hidden under where the leaf once was.
The berries are eaten by some bird species and deer can be seen grazing on smaller twigs and foliage near the ground.
On one of the trails there was a small hill. At the bottom of this hill I found this tulip tree(Liriodendron tulipifera). It has alternately arranged leaves with 4 lobes. The leaves are not toothed. This species is one of the tallest of the eastern hardwoods, getting a diameter anywhere from 4-6 feet and a height of 80-100 feet. The trunk grows fairly straight and has a lot of space between the first branch and the ground. The tree I found however, was a young tree. So it was fairly small for this species.
In some areas, such as Pennsylvania and Virginia, this tree is called the canoe tree. This is because Native Americans often use this tree species to make dugouts, which is a type of canoe where they carve out part of the trunk to make a canoe-like vessel. The size and shape of this tree make it easier to make these canoes.
This tree-of-heaven(Ailanthus altissima) was found at the bottom of a hill further inland from the reservoir. It was along the outskirts of the heavily forested area getting a fairly good amount of sun. The leaves on this are alternate and pinnately compounded. The leaflets are in large groupings of over 7 per leaf. The leaflets are softly toothed at the base, kind of like two little nodes. Other than the base the leaflets were entire the rest of the way.
This species is an invasive in Ohio. It can also be called the Chinese sumac because of its origin and resemblance to native sumacs. This tree grows incredibly fast and is difficult to get rid of due to its hardiness. Herbicides can be used to kill them though. The smell a tree-of-heaven gives off is rather unpleasant. It resembles that of used gym socks or spoiled peanut butter.
This river birch(Betula nigra) was found in a small crater along the main path. The small lowland area allows for moisture to collect here creating the right kind of soil moisture content for this species. These are typically found near or along rivers in moist conditions, hence the name. The leaves on this tree are alternately arranged. They are simple and double serrated and almost have an overall triangular shape to them. The bark is very indicative of the species. It has almost paper-like peeling around the trunk. It is orange-brown in color with some lighter accents.
The peeling bits of bark are highly flammable. As such even when it is damp it serves as great kindling. Many mammals, such as white tailed deer and rabbits, also rely on this species for food. They often eat the bark, twigs, and seedlings.
This black walnut(Juglans nigra) was found along the forest edge. The leaves are alternate, pinnately compound. The leaflets are finely toothed along the whole leaflet. They are shaped like a pointed elongated oval.
The fruit husks of the black walnut can stain clothing, so it can be used as a dye. On top of this the nut contained is edible. The wood produced by the black walnut is also very valuable.
This silver maple(Acer saccharinum) was found closer to the river edge in a more moist environment. These typically do better in swamps and banks where the soil moisture content is higher. The leaves are oppositely arranged and simple. Maples are one of the only tree species with opposite leaves. This makes maples a bit easier to identify them in the winter when there are no leaves to go off of. This maple is a silver maple and it is pretty clear by the leaf. The most obvious sign is how the underside of the leaf is very white/silvery compared to the top side of the leaf. On top of this it has 5 lobes with very distinctive deep sinuses between the middle lobes.
Maples are most commonly known for their syrup. The sap to produce this is typically harvested in mid to late winter. There is about a 40 to 1 ratio of sap to syrup production after the sap is processed. While the sap can be harvested from the silver maple, the sap from it is not as sweet as that from sugar maple so it is not normally used for its sap. On top of that silver maple is fairly brittle compared to other maples, so it is not as nearly as long lived.
This is personally one of my favorite trees! Unfortunately I was unable to get close enough to the trunk to capture a good image of it, but these trees have massive bundles of thorns all along the trunk and some of the branches. It is speculated that this was a natural defense system it created in response to megafauna when they roamed the land. There are some cultivated varieties of this tree that no longer have thorns, so sometimes they are used as ornamental plants.
Other than the characteristic thorns the leaves and pods captured in the image are enough to identify this. The leaves are double compound with the leaflets entire. The double compound is pretty rare on leaves so it is also indicative of the honeylocust. The long bean pod is also strongly associated with the species. In the fall they turn dark brown and almost dry up before falling to the ground.
This catalpa (Catalpa spp.) was found near the parking lot among other trees. It took up a fair amount of space and was pushing on the trees next to it. These trees can get around 50-60 feet tall and with leaves as large as they are they can kill other trees and shrubs around and under it that are shade intolerant. The leaves are whorled, simple, and entire. The leaf shape resembles a heart and the leaves are pretty large. There are also some string bean like capsules which are found on catalpa. As far as the specific species goes I was unable to further identify the species past the genus due to the lack of flowers that would really separate the species.
This species is very common as an ornamental plant. It is fast growing and with the large shade giving trees it serves as a great fence plant.
Harlow, William M. Trees of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada. Dover Publications, 1957.
Petrides, George A. Trees and Shrubs. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1972.