Sunday, April 3, 2011

Adams County for Saxi-philes!

Adams County offers some of the best botany and geology in Ohio, and yesterday we made a botanical foray filled with learning experiences. Not only did we find the rarest of mustard (Draba) species in a cemetery, and the "mouse-tails" that inhabit mudflats, we admired some rocks and flora at the Whipple State Nature Preserve just outside of West Union, Ohio.

Hepatica, Hepatica noblis on a dolomite rock outcropping

Much of Whipple Preserve is dolomite slump blocks, boulders and outcroppings. We admired many of the individual plants, beauties against the beast, eking out a living on the moss and moisture found in a harsh environment.

It is difficult to get a scope of the scale of some of these boulders, long parted from the native rock which spawned them. To move rock of this size would require the efforts of Sisyphus, the mythic Greek King.

Smooth Rock Cress, Arabis laevigata

The plants who cling on for dear life, often delicately rooted in mosses, are saxicolous: rock loving plants. We also see some of these same plants in Mohican State Park, like this common rock cress.

Much rarer is the Snow trillium, Trillium nivale, also found on rock formations. (Not in Whipple Preserve)

Photo from previous year...

This chunk of Adams County dolomite is festooned with Wild Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis. A favorite plant of hummingbirds and sphinx moths, it should be in bloom during Flora-Quest.

Like to learn more about geology and botany? There is one spot left in Tim Snyder's and Guy Denny's trip for Flora-Quest. This is your chance to spend 2 days with the experts and an evening with friends. Check out the Flora-Quest website - and call the hot-line to reserve your place.


Thanks to my friends at Mid-West Native plant folks for making this trip possible! You can read more at Heather of the Hills', Jim McCormac's, or Mid-West Native Plants' blogs (all have quick-links on the sidebar of this blog.)


  1. We can appreciate individual species much more if we spend a little time and actually learn about the plant. I find if I learn something about the plant I can remember its name.

  2. Yes, breaking the names down into the Latin parts is very helpful!

    Saxi- of or pertaining to rocks
    phile - a lover of friend

    and a saxifrage.. is a "rock breaker"

  3. Cheryl, you taught me Waterleaf this weekend, so thank you for that! I found a photo of such a leaf in my pics from Saturday, and I actually remembered the name because of how you broke down the Latin name. By the way, we really should have staged a photo of Jim with one of these huge rocks since he kept offering to move them for us... :)

  4. Virginia Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum virginianum is one of my favorite plants! Just wait till you see it bloom- gorgeous!

    Yes, Jim is very accommodating! :)

  5. Never have seen waterleaf bloom, looking forward to it! Lots of pedals for those hepatica too. Maybe it was such a good site that they responded by producing more pedals?? Nice post again!