Playing the role of a bee

Mid-spring through mid-summer is a good time to see our native orchids in flower here in Ohio.  One of the showiest groups is the Lady’s Slippers, which have a distinctive pouch-shaped lip.  We have four species of Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium) in Ohio and one of the more frequent ones is the Yellow Lady’s Slipper (C. parviflorum).  There are two varieties of this species – Large and Small.  The Large (var. pubescens) tends to be a plant of rich woods in more upland situations, while the Small (var. parviflorum) is a plant of wet and often more open situations.  In addition, there are floral differences, including overall flower size and coloration of petals.  In many places they are quite distinct, but in others there seem to be intermediates, which is the main reason that they are not called distinct species.

The Small Yellow Lady’s Slipper in flower at Cedar Bog.

The Small Yellow is the less common one in Ohio, given that there are fewer instances of its habitat than for the Large.  One place that the Small occurs is Cedar Bog in Champaign County.  Cedar Bog is really less of a “bog” and more of a “fen” or swamp, because it is not a lake that has been filled in with Sphagnum moss, creating an acidic habitat, but is rather an alkaline wetland that has water flowing through it.  Cedar Bog is owned by the Ohio History Connection and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Pollinating a flower.

Unfortunately, the numbers of Small Yellow Lady’s Slippers at Cedar Bog have been declining recently, so the preserve managers wanted to have the flowers hand-pollinated to increase the changes of seed set, rather than depending on bees to do the job.  They called on me as an orchid specialist to perform the pollination, since orchids have a rather specialized floral morphology.  Two weeks ago my colleague, Richard Gardner, from the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, picked me up and we headed out to Cedar Bog.  Once there, we put on rubber boots because we needed to hike off the boardwalk to the orchids.  We made our way to the plants, which had been surrounded by plastic fencing to keep the deer from browsing them.  We opened the enclosures and I set to pollinating, removing the pollen masses (pollinia) from one plant with forceps and transferring them to another.  There were only five stems up this year, and only three of those were in flower, so each pollinium was fairly precious.  I did my best, but we won’t know for a few weeks if the pollination was successful – hopefully we will soon see capsules beginning to swell that will be filled with mature seeds by the end of the summer.

You can learn more about Cedar Bog at this website.

About the Author: Dr. John Freudenstein is Director of the OSU Herbarium and Professor of EEOB.  Photographs by Richard Gardner.

Images from Botany 2016

Now back from this week’s Botany 2016 meeting in Savannah, Georgia, I have some photos to share with you.  As I mentioned in the previous post, meetings like this provide us with a number of benefits — connecting with colleagues, seeing what others are doing in research, and just experiencing a new city.  I had not been to Savannah before and I enjoyed it.  The famous garden squares that the city is built around give it a unique feel.  The meeting was well-attended and had an especially large component of presentations about outreach from academic units to the broader public — something that we are trying to do with this blog.



I could not resist stopping along the highway on the way down to photograph this rock face that had been dislodged by roots growing into a crevice and ultimately causing it to fall, illustrating the power of plants!


Savannah is a port city, near the Atlantic Ocean and served by the Savannah River, meaning the the city sees a lot of large container ships; here is a view of part of the city from the convention center at which our meeting was held.


These meetings are held at large convention centers these days, as opposed to college campuses, where we used to meet. It is convenient in that all of the presentations are closer together and there are large open spaces for meeting with colleagues, as shown here.


Most of the formal exchange at a meeting like this consists of talks presented by the attendees; you can do a lot of sitting throughout the day.





Posters are also a popular way of presenting your research results. Here, a former student in our program, Dr. Lisa Wallace, explains the status of the Mississippi herbarium databasing effort.


Paul Blischak, one of our current EEOB students, explains some of his work during the poster session.




Savannah is famous as the setting for John Berendt’s novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Local cemeteries are not only historic and atmospheric, but also reveal plants growing wherever they can — here in a brick wall.


The fact that the Palmetto (Sabal palmetto) is frequent and native in the area reminds us that we are approaching the subtropics and tropics, home to most palm diversity.



Although not native to the US, the Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia) is used widely in plantings in the south as a street tree and provides a lot of color.















































About the Author: Dr. John Freudenstein is a Professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and Director of the OSU Herbarium.

Summer – time for fieldwork and meetings

For many university faculty who are associated with museum collections, summer is a very different time than the academic year.  Many of us do not have teaching and departmental responsibilities then and so we are able to get out to do fieldwork, focus more intensively on research projects, and attend meetings.

When I say meetings, what do I mean?  Most scientific societies hold meetings for their members periodically – many on an annual basis.  These meetings bring together researchers and educators to exchange ideas about their work.  We present talks and posters that summarize results of projects.  As a plant systematist, I usually attend the “Botany” meeting that is held this week in Savannah, GA.

Logo Botany Conference 2016The meeting is large enough (with over a thousand attendees) that there are many parallel sessions on different topics, so it is not possible for one person to attend all of the talks.  You just have to make a schedule and choose what you want to hear – and talk to your colleagues to find out about talks that you missed.

In addition to oral presentations with projected graphics, posters are a great way to communicate the results of your scientific work.  The nice thing about posters is that they are available for viewing for several days and you can take your time reading them (usually they are assembled in a large room or two).  In addition during “poster sessions” – dedicated times when there are no talks going on – individuals will be standing by their posters to speak with meeting attendees about their work.  Another nice thing about posters is that after the meeting they can be brought back to your institution and displayed there.

What about biological collections and their relevance to these meetings?  Biological collections come into play in several ways.  First, much of the work that is being presented at evolutionarily-ecologically focused meetings is based in some way on specimens, so they are important as the basis for the data.  Second, there are often sessions at these meetings that are focused on specimens and museum collections – including exchanging ideas about best practices in curation and organizing larger-scale initiatives for the community.  At this year’s Botany meeting, for example, I will attend a session for herbarium curators and for anyone who is involved with and interested in aspects of herbaria.  Perhaps not surprisingly, much of the discussion in recent years at those sessions has centered on specimen databasing initiatives and how we can better work together across the community.  Lastly, there are professional societies dedicated to the promotion, improvement and educational aspects of natural history collections, such as the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections and the Natural Science Collections Alliance.  These societies also have meetings for individuals who are curate and develop natural history collections.

Check this blog on Friday – I’ll post some photos from the Botany 2016 meeting in Savannah so that you can see some of what has gone on there.  If you can’t wait, you can follow the meeting on Twitter (#botany2016).


About the AuthorDr. John Freudenstein is a Professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and Director of the OSU Herbarium.

Plants included in the Calinger et al. study

Here are just of few of the species that were included in the Calinger et al. study of flowering time.

Cercis canadensis (Redbud), a tree in the bean family (Fabaceae).

Cercis canadensis (Redbud), a tree in the bean family (Fabaceae), flowers in spring.

Aesculus glabra (Ohio Buckeye; Sapindaceae), flowering in spring.

Aesculus glabra (Ohio Buckeye; Sapindaceae), flowering in spring.










Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple), flowering in spring.


Sabatia angularis (Rose Pink) flowers in summer. It is a member of the gentian family.









Cyp parvi

Cypripedium parviflorum (Yellow Lady’s Slipper) is an orchid that flowers in spring.

Cyp acaule

Cypripedium acaule (Pink Lady’s Slipper) also flowers in spring.










Hypopitys americana (Pinesap) is a leafless member of the blueberry family that flowers in summer.


Monotropa uniflora is also leafless and a member of the blueberry family.










Calopogon tuberosus (Grass Pink) flowers in summer and is limited to bogs and wet sand.

Chimaphila maculata (Spotted Pipsissewa) is a small, almost herbaceous member of the blueberry family (Ericaceae). It flowers in summer.











Tipularia discolor (Cranefly Orchid) has leaves that are present during the winter and flowers in late summer.


The flowers of the Cranefly Orchid are unusual in that they are asymmetric — the petal on the left side of the flower is shifted downward.











Corallorhiza maculata (Spotted Coralroot) is a leafless orchid that flowers in late summer.


Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple) flowers in spring, but is well-known for its autumn foliage colors.









About the AuthorDr. John Freudenstein is a Professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and Director of the OSU Herbarium.  All phots by the author except those of Corallorhiza and Tipularia, which were taken by Erich DeLin.

Science from specimens

We frequently talk about the nature of our collections, the techniques that we use to preserve specimens, and sometimes about the living organisms that they represent. This time I would like to comment on what we can DO with the specimens. We are preserving them for the information that they contain, so let’s look at an example of how we can use that information.

A key point about museum collections is that, if done correctly, they preserve the organism with data about where and when it was collected. That spatial and temporal information is valuable and is why individual specimens are truly irreplaceable – you cannot go back in time to recollect something.

Climate change is a big topic in the news these days and because it is about change – something different in one time from another – museum specimens can be relevant to studying it. If in fact the climate is warming in a particular area, one expectation is that the growing season may lengthen – it might start a little earlier in spring and end a little later in autumn. If we could compare when plants begin flowering in spring, for example, we might find that for various species they flower somewhat earlier on average in the climate has warmed.

Calinger titleA study performed by one of the graduate students in our department was designed to investigate this. Kellen Calinger used herbarium specimens from our collection from across Ohio. She targeted plants at the peak of bloom, which meant that she needed to be careful that she was comparing plants in the same state of flowering (not just opening and not getting past), which she was easily able to do by examining each sheet. She restricted her sampling to a fairly narrow area to prevent the confounding effects of north-south variation in seasons. She analyzed 141 species collected over 115 years, including those flowering in spring, early and late summer. She also considered whether the species were herbaceous or woody, annual or perennial, wind or insect pollinated, and whether they were native or introduced.

Calinger graph

A graph from the Calinger et al. paper showing the gradual upward trend in temperatures over the past century.

What did she find? First, she found that there was considerable variation among the species with respect to how they responded to warming temperature. Sixty-six species (46%) showed significant advancement of flowering time with increasing temperature, while only two species (1%) showed a delay in flowering time. The remainder did not show a statistically significant change. Overall, flowering advanced 3.4 days per every degree (F) of warming for those 46% of species that were most sensitive, it was 5.2 days per degree. Spring flowering species were more responsive than those that flower in early or mid-summer, suggesting that there is a “buffering effect” as you move into the growing season. Wind-pollinated species (such as oaks) were more strongly affected than insect pollinated species, and introduced species were markedly more affected than native species. Annuals were more affected than perennials.


Phacelia purshii with a visiting bee. Photo by John Andersland.

How much of an effect is this? For Phacelia purshii (common name: Miami Mist) in northeastern Ohio, where the temperature effect seems strongest, it is flowering now two weeks earlier than it did a century ago. Many species in the study showed this pattern. One of the most troubling findings was the fact that introduced species seem to be very responsive to warming, suggesting that invasives may become an increasing problem.

Enough of the bad news – my point here was to emphasize what we can learn from museum collections that we could not otherwise know. Without the documentation of the presence of species at particular places and times, we would have no way to perform this kind of analysis. It’s just one example of what we can learn from our collections.


About the AuthorDr. John Freudenstein is a Professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and Director of the OSU Herbarium. 

Open House 2016

Last Saturday (April 23) started out cool and cloudy, but the enthusiasm of visitors and volunteers at the 12th Annual Museum Open House made it turn into an exhilarating day.  By our best reckoning, we had 2,641 guests join us to celebrate the day. Our 186 volunteers were there to welcome them and share their passion for biodiversity.

This was a year of innovation: a springtime date, outdoor activities under a massive 20′ x 90′ tent, a 2,200 gallon aquarium stocked with a variety of fish from the Scioto River, the t-shirt design contest, and a number of new hands-on activities. The support and positive feedback from the community was absolutely tremendous and thoroughly invigorating. Thanks to all who came, to all who helped to put the event together, to all our amazing volunteers, to the generous donations from visitors, and to the College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology, and to the Department of Entomology for financial support.

We’re wrapping up this year’s event (look for a more complete report at later blog post) and already thinking and planning for our lucky 13th Open House: all ideas on how to make this a better event are welcome. See you next year!


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This year we expanded to the outside of the Museum, with kids’ activities under the tent.

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Another new feature was the portable aquarium, stocked with fish from the Scioto River; they were returned to the river at the end of the day.

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One of our young visitors gets a closer look at the fish.










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A chameleon being painted on the cheek of one of our guests.

Open House-Christina

OSU undergraduate student Christina Daragan volunteered in face painting and acquired a painting of her own.

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EEOB department chair Dr. Libby Marschall cuts chameleons out of paper plates for a kid’s activity.










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A young visitor engaged in fish-printing.

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Graduate students from the Aquatic Ecology Laboratory help with the plankton races.

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One of many young visitors who were photographed looking through a very different organism!









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George Keeney, “zookeeper” of the Insect Zoo, which is always a big attraction.

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Dr. Rachelle Adams shows roaches to visitors.

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Abby Pomento shows a Hognose Snake to a young visitor.









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Roger Thoma explains crayfish biology to visitors.

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Former graduate student Dr. Paul Larson explains DNA analysis.

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Members of the limnology lab talk about aquatic systems with visitors.









Open House Bird Lady

Stephanie Malinich, Manager of the Tetrapod Collection, with her avian headdress.

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Graduate student Liz Calhoon explains the colors of birds.

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Activities and exhibits in the Insect Collection.









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The adult phase (you can tell by the wings) of a volunteer in the Insect Collection.

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Jodi Folzenlogen explains the collection of sounds in the Bioaccoustics exhibit.

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Dr. Tom Watters, Curator of the Mollusc Collection, explains the world of mussels and clams.









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Dr. Hans Klompen, Director of the Tick & Mite Collection, shows the world of these tiny organisms to our guests.

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OSU undergraduate student Miriam Gibbs explains fish biology.

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Drs. Bill Ausich, William Schenck and Dale Gnidovec talk about fossils with our visitors.









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Exhibits in the Herbarium.

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Dr. Bob Klips explains lichen biology to a guest.

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Dr. Meg Daly, Director of the Fish Collection, and Dr. Norm Johnson, Director of the Insect Collection (and lead event organizer), enjoy a moment in the beautiful weather.











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Dr. Luciana Musetti, Curator of the Triplehorn Insect Collection, with Zach Hurley, former Curatorial Assistant at the insect collection.

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Dr. Carol Anelli, Associate Chair of Entomology, and Dr. Johnson help orient visitors.

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Kevin Lumney, Instructor in EEOB, takes a well-deserved break near the end of the event.











About the Authors: Dr. Norman Johnson is Director of the Triplehorn Insect Collection and led the organization of the Museum Open House 2016. Dr. John Freudenstein is Director of the OSU Herbarium. Norman wrote the text above and John produced the photo gallery. All photos and captions by John Freudenstein.

Wonders of the Herbarium Library



Carl von Linné, the Swedish taxonomist from the 18th century.

Here at the Museum we focus on collecting and preserving samples of biodiversity to document variation that exists over species’ ranges and through time.  We then analyze that variation to come to conclusions about the circumscription of species and their relationships.  There is a long history of this kind of work, especially regarding the recognition of species and their naming.  This means that it is very important to have access to the literature that came before our own work.  With plant taxonomy, the starting point for nomenclature (naming of taxa) is 1753, with the work of the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné (Linnaeus), since he was the first individual to use binomial nomenclature (names consisting of a genus and species) consistently.

We are fortunate in the Herbarium to have a great library collection, with books dating back to the mid-1500’s.  The reason that we have these is that staff associated with the Herbarium in the past acquired these books and we have continued to add to and shape the collection with a focus on plant systematics.  However, the collection also has strengths in other areas, including exploration.  Browsing through the collection, one finds some amazing things.

Curtis Bot Mag title

The title page of the first volume of what came to be known as “Curtis’s Botanical Magazine” from 1787.

One thing that is striking about many of our older volumes is how well they are preserved.  Books produced up to the late 19th century used good paper that lasts well.   This is in comparison to many books printed in the early 1900’s, in which poor quality paper with high acid content has led to crumbling and yellowing of the paper.  The colors of illustrations can be spectacular, even though hundreds of years old.  A case in point is the series Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.  Begun in 1787, this publication is still being produced by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (London).  Every other page consists of a color plate of a plant, with a description on the following page.  The plates are very popular for their decorative value, with the result that many volumes of the work have had their plates removed so that they can be framed.  Here you can see some plates from Volume 1 (1787).


Helleborus,, a member of the buttercup family, is often grown as an ornamental.


Dodecatheon, known as “Shooting Star”, from the primrose family. This species is native in the midwestern US.


Sprekelia is a member of the amaryllis family, from South Africa.









Nature displayed

The title page of “Nature Displayed”, from 1740.

Another aspect that is documented in a historical collection such as ours is the change of attitudes over time.  For example, in the late 18th and 19th centuries, occupations and pastimes considered suitable for young women, and youth in general, were limited.


The first page of Rousseau’s book on botany (in English translation) from 1771.

One activity that was eventually considered appropriate was the study of plants.  The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an advocate of nature study for young women, as can be seen in the opening page of a book from 1771 written for mothers who could then teach their daughters about the study of plants.  As he says, the study of nature, “abates the taste for frivolous amusements [and] prevents the tumult of the passions.”  Similarly, another early volume called “Nature Displayed”, by the French author Noël Antoine Pluche (1740), argued that study of natural history “excites the curiosity and forms the minds of youth.”



The title page of Matthioli’s commentary on Dioscorides.

We have a copy of the French translation of Pietro Matthioli’s commentary (published in 1579) on the ancient Greek author Dioscorides’ work.  The latter was one of the go-to sources for information about plants and their medicinal uses from about 300 CE to the 1400’s.  Matthioli, writing in the 1500’s, added to Dioscorides.  The book contains many hand-colored illustrations of plants, animals, and even people interacting with nature.  As you can see, they did not worry too much about coloring within the lines!  Here we see a number of those illustrations, including a man apparently struggling to collect vipers (probably the European Adder).

Matt Dandelion

A Dandelion (dent de lion) from Matthioli.

Matt Croc

A crocodile from Matthioli.

Matt Viper

A man catching vipers from Matthioli.




Today, even much of the older literature is becoming available online, but there is still nothing like holding the 400-year-old original in your hand.


About the AuthorDr. John Freudenstein is a Professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and Director of the OSU Herbarium.  All photos are by the author except for the one of Linnaeus, which came from an online source.



More spring plants soon to be in flower

Following on my last post about some of our earliest flowering spring herbs, here are images of several more to get us warmed up for the season to some.

Asarum 1

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) can form large masses because it reproduces via rhizomes.

Asarum 2

The flowers can be almost hidden, are inconspicuously colored, and are probably pollinated by small flies.





Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis)

Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis) inhabits rich woods and is one of our earliest flowering orchids.


Spotted Mandarin (Prosartes maculata) is quite rare in Ohio, being found only in the southernmost counties in rich woods.










Cyp acaule

Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule) is at home in acidic soils and is less common in our typical wildflower woods.


Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum) prefers neutral to alkaline soils and is more frequent in rich woods.





Iris verna

Iris verna is one of our dwarf irises, standing about 8 inches tall. It is a rare species in Ohio but becomes more common in the Appalachians.


Pachysandra procumbens is the native Appalachian species in this genus; P. japonica is often planted as a groundcover.






Horse Gentian (Triosteum angustifolium) is somewhat inconspicuous because the flowers are borne in leaf axils.


You need to look closely to appreciate the flowers of this species.



















Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is very distinctive with its large paired leaves and single white flower.


The flowers are about 2 inches across; here a well-camouflaged moth rests on the flower.










Scarlet Catchfly (Silene virginica) is one of the most intensely-colored flowers in our spring flora.

Wild Geranium (G. maculatum) is a common but showy species in our spring flora.









About the AuthorDr. John Freudenstein is a Professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and Director of the OSU Herbarium.  All photos are by the author.

On the verge of spring in central Ohio


Skunk Cabbage inflorescences in full bloom; the small flowers are clustered on the stalk surrounded by the reddish bract.

Spring is almost here and very soon we will be in the midst of the spring floral explosion. Our Herbarium is well-represented for the spring flora of Ohio, with collections back to 1840.  The strategy for many of our spring-flowering species is to emerge early, flower, and complete their annual growth cycle by summer. They avoid the closed-canopy months when much less light penetrates to the forest floor and are already dormant and ready for next year by July. But not everything that flowers early uses this strategy. One of our earliest species to flower is Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). This inhabitant of wet, swampy woods is a member of a family that is most diverse in the tropics, although we have a few members at this latitude (such as Jack-in-the Pulpit, Arisaema).   Skunk Cabbage inflorescences sometimes emerge when there is still snow on the ground and will melt through the snow because they generate heat to volatilize their fragrance compounds that are attractive to flies. The leaves develop after the inflorescences and are large, making the plant up to four feet across. They have a strong skunky odor, especially when crushed, giving the plant its name. The leaves persist throughout the summer.


Snow Trilliums are easy to see because they are one of the first plants to flower on the forest floor.


Small bees can often be seen visiting the flowers.

One of our most special native spring plants in central Ohio is the Snow Trillium (T. nivale). It is a small species, only about three inches tall, and it normally flowers at the end of March. It has a rather special niche – bluffs over the floodplains of rivers. It is an uncommon plant, but can be quite abundant when present, sometimes occurring in the thousands. The plant was named in 1835 by John Riddell and the type locality is along the Scioto River just north of Columbus. The species occurs from Pennsylvania west to Iowa and from Minnesota south to Missouri. This is one species that is by far easiest to find when in flower. As soon as taller plants overshadow it, it becomes impossible to see and by summer it is in fruit and then gone until next year.



Harbinger-of-Spring is inconspicuous because of its small size and not-very-showy flowers. The plants are about 3 inches tall.

Another of the very earliest native species to flower is Harbinger-of-Spring (Erigenia bulbosa). It might not seem like it at first glance, but this is a member of the Carrot Family (Apiaceae). The inflorescence is much reduced compared to most members of that family, but the leaves are divided as is typical and the fruits are just right. This species typically flowers in March and is found in rich woods, along with many of our other spring wildflowers, but is in bloom before most of them.





In contrast to the blood-red sap in the rhizomes, the petals of Bloodroot are pure white.


The flowers often last only 2-3 days in good condition before the petals begin to fall.


Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a member of the Poppy family (Papaveraceae) and gets its common name from the red sap in the rhizome. Unfortunately, the flowers do not last long. Wind or rain will make them lose their petals particularly fast – so enjoy them while you can.



Putty-root leaves are conspicuously green against brown leaves, or as here, snow. Last year’s fruiting stalk persists.


Putty-root inflorescences may be up to 2 feet tall, with individual flowers about 3/4 inch wide.

Two of our native species of orchids are plants that you can see right now – and throughout the winter – because their leaves are present during the winter and stand out in green contrast to the brown leaves of the forest floor. These are Putty-root (Aplectrum hyemale) and Cranefly Orchid (Tipularia discolor). They are an example of a very different way of dealing with the summer closed canopy that most of our spring natives. With both of these species, leaves emerge in autumn and are able to photosynthesize in the relatively bright light during periods of winter when there is no snow and the temperatures are milder. The leaves in both of these species whither by the beginning of summer. Puttyroot flowers typically in May in central Ohio and Cranefly Orchid in August, at which time it also stands out because few species are in flower in the forest shade at that time of year. Puttyroot leaves have fine white striping on the upper side and are green below, whereas Cranefly Orchid leaves are green above and intense purple below.


Here you can see the green upper surface and purple under surface of the Cranefly Orchid’s leaves.


Cranefly Orchid is so-named because the flowers look something like a swarm of long-legged insects.









About the AuthorDr. John Freudenstein is a Professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and Director of the OSU Herbarium.  All photos are by the author except for the Aplectrum leaves and Tipularia flowers, which are by Erich DeLin.


Not the usual plant specimens…

Plants, both large and small and in various states (with leaves, without leaves and as twigs, with fruits, without fruits, etc.) are collected and maintained in the Ohio State University Herbarium. Vascular plants with leaves, flowers and fruits comprise the majority of the Ohio State University Herbarium, this having been the focus of the collection by staff and acquisitions through purchase, exchange or as gift since the beginning. But one also finds representatives of many vascular plants in leafless condition in the Herbarium. These are important as they are likely to be of value to those who work particularly with woods or in forestry. Herbaria normally emphasize that materials should always be collected in flower or fruit and they usually feel that sterile materials are very rarely of value unless they have those characteristics associated with dormancy (buds, scars, spines, prickles, thorns, spur shoots, etc.). The ideal is to obtain both flowering and fruiting specimens of the same species at all seasons. Recognition of the same species in winter condition can be made by studying the features associated with the twigs.

Here we show some samples of vascular plants in their winter state as well as some seedlings, the latter obtained from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission’s Nevada Test Site, to show some of the the range of variation in our collection.

Stems of Black Raspberry (<i>Rubus occidentalis</i>) in winter, including some of an unusual yellow variety

Stems of Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) in winter, including some of an unusual yellow variety

A specimen of a leafy stem of Black Raspberry

A specimen of a leafy stem of Black Raspberry

A specimen of Black Raspberry from winter without leaves

A specimen of Black Raspberry from winter without leaves









Closeup of a specimen of Black Raspberry, showing the prickles on the leafless stems

Closeup of a specimen of Black Raspberry, showing the prickles on the leafless stems

A specimen with leafless stems of Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), including fruits

A specimen with leafless stems of Tree-of-Heaven (Ailanthus altissima), including fruits









An optimal specimen should utilize as much of the sheet as possible. For herbaceous plants, whenever possible the whole plant including the underground part should be collected, and a number of plants to show the range in size are much better than a single plant. On the other hand, with very small plants sufficient materials should be collected to give a fair representation of the species.

A specimen with many seedlings of a western Buckwheat (Erigonum)

A specimen with many seedlings of a western Buckwheat (Erigonum)

A specimen with seedlings of a species from the Daisy family (Asteraceae)

A specimen with seedlings of a species from the Phlox family (Polemoniaceae)

Another specimen with seedlings from the Daisy family

Another specimen with seedlings from the Daisy family (Asteraceae)









About the Author: Mesfin Tadesse is Curator of Seed Plants in the OSU Herbarium.