Ohio State University Extension Bulletin

Identifying Reference Conditions for Riparian Areas of Ohio

Special Circular 192


Western Glaciated Allegheny Plateau

In the Western Glaciated Allegheny Plateau ecoregion located in northeastern and central Ohio (Figure 2), data are available from four different sources, two of which examine the vegetation-environment relationships of riparian forests that were conducted at the same location (Graeber Woods or Johnson Woods, Figure 3). Braun (1950) documented that along an inter­mittent stream in this gently dissected morainal system classified by Gordon (1969) as an elm-ash swamp forest type, the lower, poorly drained flats were dominated by red maple (Acer rubrum), American elm (Ulmus americana), and swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), while on the drier swells or morainal ridges, white oak (Quercus alba), American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.), and sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) dominated the overstory.

Although Braun (1950) makes no mention of the herbaceous understory, Goebel et al. (2003) found that specific ground-flora species were associated with the floodplains located along this intermittent channel, and these were related strongly to landform and soil characteristics. For example, jewelweed (Impatiens capensis Meerb.), Canadian woodnettle (Laportea canadensis), whitegrass (Leersia virginica), and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) were all associated with floodplain soils that have finer textures, higher organic matter content, and higher concentrations of total N, nitrate-N, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium than adjacent upland communities (P. C. Goebel, unpublished data).

Figure 3.  Intermittent stream flowing through Johnson Woods State Nature Preserve with an understory dominated by jewelweed, Canadian wood nettle, and stinging nettle.
Figure 3. Intermittent stream flowing through Johnson Woods State Nature Preserve with an understory dominated by jewelweed, Canadian wood nettle, and stinging nettle.

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