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A botanical survey of the Sugar Grove region / by Robert F. Griggs.

01 Jan 1914-
About: The article was published on 1914-01-01 and is currently open access. It has received 7 citations till now.

Summary (6 min read)


  • With slight modification they cover much of the hill country in southeastern Ohio and parts *These relations have been discussed in detail by the writer in two papers, as follows: Observations on the Geographical Composition of the Sugar Grove Flora.
  • Indeed, some of the associations which are here described have been already obliterated and it would be impossible now to duplicate this account.


  • Formerly worked at the head of Laurel Run for local consumption.
  • J 30' Massive coarse-grained sandstone (the Sharon), but cemented so I loosely as seldom to form surface rock.
  • Thin-bedded sandstones with some impure fire clay and coal blossom.


  • This was formed by the accentuation of processes often seen in lesser degree throughout the region.
  • While there are other soils more oi' less widely distributed over the area these two types with their intergradations cover so large a proportion of it that they may properly be said to constitute its soil.
  • But the latest killing frost reported was on May 30, and the earliest in autumn about September 15, giving a minimum growing season, if both late and early frosts should occur in the same year, of only 110 days.
  • But the frost data have not been taken for a long enough period at any of the stations under consideration to give reliable data as to possibilities in this direction.
  • "Precipitation is quite uniform over the whole of the section [in which their area is located] and averages about 38 inches (95 cm.) per year.


  • The prevailing" winds at ('olunil)us ai'e southwest and the average movement of air is eight miles per hour.
  • Tornadoes are rare, but storms violent enough to destroy many trees are of p^^riodical occurrence.
  • The records of the Weather Bureau show that during the years 1892-1001, when the observing station was located in a comparatively low building, there averaged 3.4 days per annum with winds reaching la^s*-*F ig.
  • Over the Upland Between Big Pine Creek nnrt (jueer Creelv.


  • These two divisions form the basis of the human society which occupies the territory.
  • There are lowland farmers and upland farmers ; each community has its own set of voads and travel tends to stav down if following' a vallev road and to keep u|> if on a ridge road.
  • Tiie plant covering likewise is to be divided primarily into lowland and upland forests, each of Avhich is naturally .sub-divided into its component associations.
  • In the case of both lowland and upland forests, it will be most convenient to begin the description with the extreme types and proceed to the less extreme, finally describing the intermediate associations which mark the transition from lowland to upland.


  • Of all the problems that confront one Avho is attempting to find out the aboriginal condition of this country, none is so difficult as the reconstruction of the vegetation of the bottom-lands along the large streams.
  • It is said to have contained some very large sycamore trees, with an admixture of some other species.
  • Even when tlieiiisclves undistnrbed, no other associations show so quickly the effects of tlie changes in the land aronnd them as the bottom-lands.
  • In tlie original condition of the country the seeds thus brought in by the freshets would represent largely species already ]n-eseiit, and the ensuing struggle between the seedlings, whatever might b(^its result, would not affect the composition of the association.
  • The larger part of the area may be described as a maple swamp in which Acer rttrritm covers the ground in places to the exclusion of all other species, both herbaceous and woody.


  • In other places, permanently covered by the water coming fi-om several springs at the base of the liillside, the ground is bare of trees and a very interesting association of shade-enduring swamp herbs has Lizard's Tail in the Bottomland Swamp.
  • On one side this swamp is contiguous with a wooded hillside bearing the usual forest of the coves.
  • At the meeting place the two associations are sharply demarked by the character of the soil.
  • Cypripedium reginae Walt. (<J. spoi'tabilo, ('. liirsutum).


  • Far as Ohio is concerned, these have almost completely vanished.
  • It is only in the canyon of Queer Creek that anything like an unspoiled birch bottom can be found, and even here the undisturbed association remains in only a veiy limited area-less than an acre all told-and there is a considerable admixture of species which were not present in the association in primeval times.
  • The soil is almost pure sand, with littk humus, most of the organic matter being in the foi'm of undecayed particles of wood.
  • These are: Ash {Fraxinus americana), sycamore , basswood {Tilia), butternut {J iigJans cinerea), blue beech {Carpinus), and red maple (Acer ruhrum):.
  • One cannot be sure which to eliminate as intruders, since there are no other areas to use for comparison.

Lycopodium lucidulum

  • To these must be added the Virginia creeper which is common but so small that it must be classed as an herb, seldom rising off the ground.
  • But whenever a break in the forest lets in the light, it is readyto spring up luxuriantly and cover the oi)en places.
  • The one passes into the otliei-abruptly as the level land gives way to the hillside, the place of Bctula hifca being taken by the hemlock, while the yew, the ferns and the lycopod become more abundant.
  • The one factor which more than any othei-appears to be responsible for the development of this association is the absence of light.
  • On both sides it is hemmed in by lofty cliffs, which greatly reduce the light reaching the bottom.


  • "While the vegetation on the banks of the larger streams is a heterogeneous mixture of all sorts of elements, especially annual weeds, the banks of Queer Creek are covered hi places with an association of geophilous perennial herl:»s which is close to the natural condition.
  • This may be observed, perhaps to greatest advantage, on the banks of the basin below The Falls at the head of "The Gulf.".
  • It develops on banks which are too fre(iuently overflowed to permit the growth of trees or bushes.
  • RudbecJiia laci)nata and Loiclia sijpliUitica are usually present and, by reason of their flowers, conspicuous.
  • But it is one of the associations which have become greatly extended since the clearing of the country.


  • A. The Lowland Forest Tin H<ml(k Forest.
  • The deepest forest in the region is that formed by the liemloek, which is most Inxnriant on the sides and bottoms of the deeper ravines sonth oi* (Uear Creek (fig. 11 ).
  • Tho individual hemlock trees are common enough all through the area, the pure hemlock forest is not found north of that stream.
  • In its extreme form the hemlock forest is an unmixed association of hemlocks, no other vascular plant but Tsitga canadensis being present.
  • More often, however, Betula Icnta is associated with Tsuga and the ground is not bare 1 ut occupied by the yew (Ta.tus), and herbage consisting of : Dryopteris spinulosum.

Hicoria orata

  • The underbrush in places, especially on densely shaded slopes with a northern exposure, consists of thickets of Bhododoidron maximum (fig. 14 ), almost without intermixture of other species, either fruteseeiit or herbaceous.
  • -Photo by -J. E. Hyde. and shrubs grow beneath the forest canopy.
  • Hammcmelis vircjiniana Cynoxylon florida alternifolia Azalea lutea, also known as These are.

Sydranfifa arhorescens I'ihnrimm arerifniiiim

  • Together with these are young individuals of the forest trees and btragglers from other associations which, though frequently abundant here, especially in places where the forest is younger, are gradually suppressed by ovei'shadiiig.
  • Tlie most ai)undant of these are Sassafras, Ojijd(itf]i-ii, Kahttia, and (^hnfciis piitius.
  • The last two in this forest, as in the birch bottom land, are strictly ground trailers, and though always common, ai-e never luxuriant until a windfall or other accident lets in the light, when they shoot up with great rapidity into Ihcir well-known full liane foi-m.
  • These Liriodendron "coves" once covered a large proportion of the northern section of their area.
  • Below Clear Creek they are, and probably always were, scarce.

The Lapland Forest

  • The succession of associations in the upland forest is best seen by ascending the point of one of the long, narrow ridges between the ravines and walking back from the edge of the cliff thi-ough the pine woods into the oak forest and around to the head of tln^ravine where the upland merges with the lowland.
  • The substratum is extremely acid to litmus paper.
  • It is exposed to the extreme action of the wind and to the greatest extremes of teiuperature, together with the most sudden changes which are possible within the limits set up by the climate of the region.
  • The vegetation of the cliff tops develops into zones similar to those found around ponds, but in this case the zones depend on the depth of the soil and the exposure.
  • The front rock is nearly bare, but supports a few foliose lichens (Parmelia sp.), a few small mosses seldom found in fruit, with occasional stunted stragglers fi'om the next zones.


  • Beside the forests, the most considerable body of vegetation is that which occupies the rocks.
  • In oiu-pliice tlu-rock may be occiii)ie(l by a given set of plants, while in the next hollow, nnder entirely similar conditions, ditfeicnt plants appear.
  • It is never found far away from the cliffs, and though by far the larger proportion of its seeds must drop down on to the ground below the cliff, it only is rarely that one finds it growing there (fig. 21 ). Isolated Bo}ild<)-s.
  • In others the floor of the cave is continuous with the talus slope at the base of the cliff, in which case, if the conditions are not too severe, the flora is nearly allied to that of the talus slopes in general.
  • By reason of its very long, slender roots, which extend far and wide through the loose sand, and the protective hairy investment of the leaves, it is able to endure moi-e severe conditions than any other plant whose seed reaches these places.


  • Most abundant on shaded i-ocks, tho often found in other habitats, especially in tlu^upland forest, is a guild of plants which recpiires separate consideration.
  • But they laboiunder a disadvantage which very stiikingly limits them to a peculiar class of habitats-namely, those which are free from a covering of fallen leaves.
  • As in every other guild of i)lants, the nu'ni))ers of this one are not all typical, but intergrade with various other guilds, from lianes to rosette plants, and in so far as they depart from the characters of the guild, they escape its limitations.
  • Thus, though normally prostrate, this plant forms ascending shoots a decimeter or two high when it is buried under leaves.
  • In such cases, covering beneath fallen leaves means simply the loss of photosynthetic activity during the winter, which might be supposed to be inconsiderable.

Ganltheria procumbens Lycopodium lucidulum

  • There are many steep slopes in the area where the rock comes so close to the surface as to prevent the growth of trees, but yet is not precipitous and retains a thin covering of soil.
  • It has already been remarked that the uplands ]"e(|uire very careful handling to prevent washing and wasting of the scanty soil.
  • After them, or in pastured land instead of them, appear various weedy plants, among which are.

Smilax glauca

  • After these plants have fully occupied the territory, reforestation begins by the appearance of some of the arborescent species, among which the first comers are often the Sassafras and the Persimmon , together with the pines, P. rigida and P. virginiana; which finally take possession to the exclusion of other trees.
  • The Sycamore often appears at this stags and grows vigorously even on land entirely denuded of its soil and exposed to extreme drouth.
  • At the same time its absence from the undisturbed bottom land associations, such as the swamp and the bircli bottom land, is not less noteworthy than its presence here.
  • But their thrifty appearance would suggest the feasibility of seeding down such land with Liriodendron, which is at once a more rapid grower and a more valuable timber tree than the pines which it would replace.
  • It^is altogether probable that they would come to resemble closely the virgin pine forest already described and that they would finally give way to the oak forest.


  • No scientific study is necessary to demonstrate that tlie land of this area is becoming poorer and poorer as its resources are dissipated under the present wasteful system of management.
  • Except from the danger of fires from the unused refuse and the fact that by this means the undesiraljle species are left to grow and multiply while the valuable woods wdiich are cut out become scarcer and scarcer, this method of lumbering when conservatively practised has much to recommend it.
  • Second, with the removal of the timber soil acidity* becomes very prevalent and more and more land becomes utterly unfit for cultivation.
  • I apply the word acidity here, for want of a better terra, to soils which when moist promptly redden blue litmus paper.
  • On the west slope of such ravines the lowland forest usually maintains its ground, but on the opposite east bank there develops an association resembling closely the upland forest, esi3ecially in the charactei' of its undergrowth.


  • A few plants formerly grew in Stukey's swamp.
  • I have not been able to find any since the station was lumbered in 1912.


  • But is limited to the faces of the Easily separated from the last, but probably not distinct from it.
  • Only a few widely scattered clumps, mostly in the southern half of the area.
  • Not otherwise known for more than a hundred miles to the northward.
  • None of the Lycopods are known to extend southward or westward in Ohio beyond the present area.


  • Found only at Kettle Hills, on the northern boundary of the area, and on a high, bare knob south of Clear Creek in section 20, Good Hope Twp.
  • Abundant in the Hemlock forest in the southern portion of the area, but absent from the northern portion.
  • Brasenia schreberi Gmel. B. purpurea Mx. Casp.).
  • Given by the manuals from the state as reaching Ohio, but authentic specimens are not known to us.


  • I have not been able to find any since the lumbering of 1912.
  • Common in the pine woods, but never seen in flower and only once in fruit by the writer.
  • Conimnn but restricted to situations not covered witli ;iiitumn leaves.
  • Synopsis-Summary of the Sugar Grove Flora Botanical Survey of the Sugar Grove Region by R. F. Griggs.

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Frequently Asked Questions (1)
Q1. What have the authors contributed in "A botanical survey of the sugar grove region" ?

The Sugar Grove region is a narrow strip of country extending from a few miles nortli of the town of Sugar Grove in Fairfield County, Ohio, in a southerly direction about twenty miles to the valley of Queer Creek near the southern boundary of Hocking County, thus occupying parts of the Lancaster and Laurelville quadrangles as mapped by the U. S. Geological Survey this paper.