Thursday, March 17, 2016

LEAP into Spring

Spring is bursting forth on Ohio's landscape. 

A vernal wetland provided ample sight and sound.
 Yesterday I enjoyed blue skies and the raucous amphibian calls at several locations, including the Bath Nature Preserve in Bath, Ohio.  This particular frog pond offered a deafening cacophony of croaks, clucks and peeps.

 I had traveled to Bath for a Lake Erie and Allegheny Partnership (LEAP) meeting.  LEAP is a consortium of land trusts, parks, and educational organizations dedicated to protecting and restoring biodiversity.  It is supported by the  Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where there is an active staff who provides leadership for LEAP.  (Thanks Renee!)

Akron U. has a field Study center at  Bath Nature Preserve.
We met at the University of Akron's Field Study and Environmental Education center.  These traveling meetings give LEAP members a excellent opportunity to see other organization's outpost. We have visited numerous park districts in Ohio and even a few in Pennsylvania.

Cornus mas, (Cornelian cherry) in full flower. 
The attractive yellow buds on a nearby tree beckoned to me from across the parking lot.  We now know them to be the four petaled flowers of a tree in the Dogwood family. This is the non-native Cornelian cherry or Cornus mas.

Cornelian cherry trees
 These small trees had me fooled!  I thought they were our native Spicebush, but they are Cornelian Cherry, or Cornus mas.  It would be fairly easy to successfully ID a Spicebuch vs this non-native dogwood, had the leaves been present.  But I am happy to have learned the difference between the two species, by the blossoms' petal count.  (Thanks to Sarah who wrote in to set me on the correct path!)

This brings me to the annual "Native Plants of the Year" cards LEAP produces.  They are an excellent mini-guide to three native Ohio plants you can incorporate into your landscape.  Look for the Flora-Quest display at up coming events, and I will be glad to share these free cards with you.

 The 2016 plants are Spicebush, Swamp Candles and Little Bluestem.  To learn more about our native plants and the pollinators attracted to them, or find local native plant nurseries, you need look no further than the LEAP website. 

Don't you think Ohio otter offer a license like this?

 Native plants also benefit native animals, just like this handsome River Otter pictured on a LEAP member's Pennsylvania license plate.  This special plate promotes the need to  "Conserve Wild Resources."

That is a message we can really get behind.  HONK, HONK!!


  1. This is not spicebush but actually Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas). The flowers are similar but spicebush has 6 yellow sepals (that look like petals) while Cornelian cherry has 4 yellow bracts (that look like petals). Also Cornealian cherry is an opposite branching tree and spicebush is an alternate branching shrub. Cornelian cherry is native to central and southern Europe and western Asia and may escape cultivation in the USA. Additionally, you could revisit the plant when the leaves are on and/or scratch and smell a twig and you will not notice the spicy aroma characteristic of spicebush.

  2. Thank you Sarah for your excellent comment. I love being wrong, 'cause it means I am learning.

    Too quickly I saw those flowers and jumped to a wrong conclusion. I truly appreciate your taking the time to weigh in and doing a great job walking us through the differences between Spicebush and Cornus mas. I will go back and modify the blog, so I am not spreading any more misinformation. But this note will remain, giving you full credit and thanks for correcting my mis-identification.

  3. I do think Ohio should otter a plate like Pa.,lol.I just stumbled across your blog.It is neat what you do,keep it up!

  4. Thank you sarah! This page is so nice :)