Field Notes

Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio

4-H Camp Whitewood in Ashtabula County

Walking Fern Excursion

17 August 2019

narrative by Judy Barnhart

Walking fern, a limestone loving species, is typically not found in northeastern Ohio. After an article appeared in the December 2018 issue of the Journal, member David Orndoff contacted me about an opportunity to see this uncommon fern at a 4-H camp in Ashtabula County. Nineteen hearty hikers met at Camp Whitewood on a humid morning, including a former camper and camp counselor.

After signing camp waivers, we caravanned down Wiswell Rd. behind David’s orange gator, across the covered bridge spanning Warner Hollow to his house on the opposite side of the ravine. From there we walked a short distance down the road to an access trail down the hillside. Judy shared fern and wildflower ID as we made our way over trees and loose bedrock with sandstone cliffs protruding overhead. Two large blocks of limestone lay haphazardly near the base of the hillside covered with walking fern. According to geologists these limestone outcroppings did not form at the time the sandstone and shale were deposited but later from hard water dripping off the overhanging sandstone.

After numerous pictures were taken of the dark green, leathery fronds arching over the moss-covered rocks, with thunder looming in the distance, we decided to head up out of the ravine. Instead of walking back the road we took a short loop trail to see footprint rock. As the legend goes an Indian maiden leaped to her death escaping two pursuers leaving an imprint in the rock of her feet. Over time the footprints were chiseled out, eventually ending up on the mantle in the dining hall.

Eastern Cauliflower, Tom Sampliner 2019

We marveled at the diversity of fungi scattered along the ridge trail with expert Tom Sampliner sharing id.

Eyelash Cup, Tom Sampliner 2019

Wintergreen was also found in patches which we enjoyed the minty smell.

Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, L.K.Schlag 2014, Thompson Ledges Wildflower Walk Archives

We sincerely thank David from taking time from his busy schedule to guide us to see this unusual fern species.

Judy Barnhart
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Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio, Walking Fern Excursion Program Archives created 25.viii.2019
narrative: Judy Barnhart; Photographs: Tom Sampliner and Lisa K. Schlag; Layout: Lisa K. Schlag