Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wetlands at work.

If you love plants, birds and mammals  -biodiversity in general-  you should seek out wetlands. Often called the "cradle of biodiversity," these places are crawling with life!

One of Ottawa N.W. R. newer projects
 A few years back, during the Midwest Birding Symposium held in Lakeside, Ohio, we collected donations for Carbon Offset Birding Project.  The Ohio Ornithological Society also kicked in funds to seed some efforts on a wetland restoration in Ottawa county. This previously wet county was part of the Great Black Swamp. It had been mostly drained for farming, but now a few of those fields are being re-purposed back in to wetlands for wildlife.
Dottie McDowell enjoys the boardwalk and viewing platform.
 The area was enhanced with a viewing platform and parking area, as well as native plantings- both forbs and trees.

This reconstructed wetlands is attracting loads of migratory birds this spring.  It has been educational to watch the tranformation from corn field to natural looking wildlife habitat in just a few short years.

Mystery plant!
Certainly of the  Ranunculus family.
The mystery plant has been solved!  Check the comment below- by Helen.  It certainly is in the buttercup family, and commonly called Cursed Buttercup or Cursed Crowsfoot, Ranunculus sceleratus.  It is reported to cause blistering - especially in the mouth- when eaten by mammals. Hence the "cursed" part. BUt then again, most of the buttercups are rather toxic when eaten.

This is exactly why Flora-Quest 2016 is undertaking wetland plants as the topic for 2016.  Too often we learn the Spring ephemerals and never learn about the amazing botany driving the wetlands in Ohio!  Time to broaden your plant horizons.  Sign up now, as quests are filling!

Just a few of the birds being sighted here!
Wetland birds and mammals need wetlands.  Ohio has lost over 90% of our wetlands to development and agriculture.  Our federal dollars and the massive work of conservation minded hunters has protected the few significant wetland remaining in Ohio.  If you have not yet visited Ohio's Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, sign up for the Flora-Quest which offers a bus ride to normally off-limit sectors.

Working together for conservation.
Conservation leaders in Ohio, like Friends of Ottawa, Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Ohio Ornithological Society and Toledo Naturalist Association all pitched in for this project.  Flora-Quest is partnering with many of these organizations for our fall workshop in Lakeside. We want to help people understand some of the major plant players in these exciting and dynamic wetlands.  So go ahead, dive in and join us on Sept. 30, 2016.


  1. Hi Cheryl. Hal Mann shared your blog post with me asking about the identity of your Mystery Plant. I believe it is Ranunculus sceleratus, also known as Cursed Buttercup.


  2. Thanks for commenting, Helen.
    I appreciate the heads up! I checked that out on USDA Plants and found an information sheet on Illinois plants: http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/wetland/plants/cursed_crowfoot.htm

    Whether you call it Cursed Buttercup or Cursed Crowsfoot, it is definitely a wetland species native to Ohio.