Friday, March 4, 2011

Geology Rocks Botany

Glen Helen in Yellow Springs, Ohio has many surprising features. The yellow travertine, formed on the rocks by the mineral waters, is just one. Although it did give name to the historic resort town.

Another feature of even more importance can be found here. This craggy rock pillar, stands tall against time in the woodlands near Antioch College.

Pompeys Pillar could use a publicity agent, as most Ohioans are completely unaware of its presence. This 15 foot pillar has been a local attraction for over 100 years, but has failed to attract the attention it merits. One has to admire this time worn rock feature having a history that well predates our state.

Finally "Pompeys" story has been told in a marvelous book featuring many of Ohio's most notable, yet often unknown, geologic features. Timothy Snyder's book "Rainbows of Rock, Pillars or Stone" provides photos and text about the natural arches and pillars of Ohio. Tim will be a key-note speaker at Flora-Quest, where he will explain how geology and botany are explicable tied.

Many endangered plants like Wall-Rue, Asplenium ruta-muraria are so linked with geology, they are only found on a particular type of rock formation. As its name suggests, wall-rue grows on vertical rocky surfaces. If the geology is uncommon the plant distribution will likely follow.

Tim, the author, will explain why botany in Ohio is never simple. Join us at Flora-Quest in Shawnee to see how geology can rock your world.


  1. When I worked at Glen Helen as a naturalist we had a lot of fun with Pompey's Pillar - on our geology hikes with young kids, before we were in sight of it we would tell them that a giant used to live in the Glen but a wizard had turned him to stone, and and to keep an eye out for him along the trail. (When we arrived at the pillar we would tell them how it REALLY got there, of course.) A very pretty spot.

  2. This was my trip (but certainly not my last!) to Glen Helen. I can't believe I have lived in Ohio all my life, and I am just now finding this jewel.

  3. I'll have to check out the book. Love a good geological find. Hiking Glen Helen is always a treat and Pompey's is always a stop on my hike.

  4. Spelling note: Interesting that Tim's book refers to it as "Pompeys" not Pompey's- like you would expect to to be- showing possession.

    Kelleys Island is the same type of name- wonder if there was a reason apostrophes were not used in these names?

  5. Interesting that the 'official' Pompeys Pillar is in Montana, along the Lewis & Clark Trail. Wonder if there's a connection? I can't find an explanation for the YS pillar.

  6. Snyder's book refered to the "official" pillar named by the L/C crew. He gives an explaination... but if I tell, you wouldn't need to read his book, would you? :)