by David Dvorak, Executive Committee Chair and Cleveland Metroparks Naturalist
On Sunday September 28 the Northeast Ohio Sierra Club had an outing
to Holden Arboretum. Our Volunteer Coordinator, Josh Prager,
organized the activity and I led the nature hike. Eighteen members
attended, some with their families. We had a wide age range participating,
not all of whom were present for the picture at the end of the
hike. Sierra Club member Benigno Rodriguez took the photo. We
visited several different habitats established by the Holden
Arboretum staff. We started in the tallgrass prairie area and
admired the flowering of asters, goldenrods, sunflowers, grasses,
and obedient plant. When you turn a flower of the bright pink
obedient plant it will maintain the position you turn it to!
Goldfinch were feeding on the seeds produced by the prairie plants.
Yes, Ohio has prairies, but most of them now have been converted
to be part of the "corn belt." A few prairie remnants
survived the plow and we now collect seed from them to restore
lands in natural area preserves to bring back their glory. Besides
Holden Arboretum, restored prairies can be found in Brecksville,
Bedford, and Hinckley Reservations of the Cleveland Metroparks.
Next we visited a bog area filled with plants that like to live
in the acidic soils of these ice age relicts. We saw tamaracks
in fall color. These are deciduous conifers. Covering most of the
low vegetation in the bog were ripening cranberries. Ferns were
taking on fall color at the edge of the bog and winterberry holly
was covered with bright red berries, an important wildlife food.
Cedar waxwings and thrushes love these berries.
Many beautiful wetland ponds dot the lands of the Holden Arboretum.
We enjoyed seeing some late blossoms on the hibiscus, swamp rose
mallow. A few dragonflies circled the ponds and robins, blue jays,
cardinals, and goldfinch fed at the ponds' edges. It rained
lightly at times, but this added to the beauty of the many plants
fading into autumn colors. We looked at another deciduous conifer,
the bald cypress, growing at the edge of one of the ponds. We could
see the growths called knees coming up from the roots around the
tree. Bald cypress are native to southeastern North America, but
do survive when planted further north, possibly assisted by the
The forest was full of falling nuts: acorns, black walnuts, and
hickory nuts. This provides the "mast" that much wildlife
depends on to get through the winters. Everything from wild turkeys
to deer depend on this mast of nuts. We admired two of Ohio’s
evergreen conifers, the white pine and eastern hemlock. Many white
pine cones were covering the forest floor. Squirrels and other
animals eat the pine nuts, the seeds that come from pine trees.
We admired tulip trees with their very straight trunks. We talked
about introduced dangers to trees like the fungus that wiped out
most American chestnuts and the recently introduced oriental emerald
ash borer which is threatening to kill all trees in the ash family.
Most baseball bats are made from ash. Could this be the end of
the Louisville Slugger bats that professional baseball uses?
Remember when you travel abroad, take pictures for memories, do
not bring living organisms back that could harbor dangerous pathogens
that can wipe native species out.