Friday, March 6, 2009

Field Trip Choice-Clifton Gorge

At our upcoming Midwest Native Plant Conference, we have ten field trips from which to choose. One of those will be the breath-taking Clifton Gorge, located in Greene County. This 268-acre preserve was registered as a National Natural Landmark in 1968. Two miles of the Little Miami State and National Scenic River runs through deep, winding channels. A few of these unique channels were shaped by potholes formed in Silurian dolomite bedrock that became interconnected over time. The site has scenic waterfalls, spectacular spring wildflowers and fascinating geology.

The day I had decided to visit had been a bit stressful and I was exhausted. As I scrambled down the rock steps, I could hear the water swiftly coursing through the gorge. Soon I felt tiny droplets of mist on my cheek and I could feel the tension melting away.

A tiny bee was visiting these lavender lovelies

It was early April and the Hepatica, Hepatica nobilis, was really putting on a show. One hillside along the gorge was blanketed with petals of delicate pink, white, lavender and blue.

This handsome deep blue variety is my personal favorite

An unusual candy-striped white and pink variety

A waterfall will always brighten one's mood, especially when accompanied by interesting botany. Near the falls I found Carex plantaginea, Plantain-leaved sedge. I had originally learned the common name as Seersucker Sedge. It was easy to remember because the leaves have a puckered appearance.

Puckered leaves of Carex plantaginea
Giant slabs of rock were peppered with stands of hemlocks and arborvitae. All along the river, massive blocks that once formed the cliff overhangs had tumbled into the gorge.

While poking around near another waterfall area, I stumbled upon this brilliant red Sarcoscypha sp. fungus. I was fascinated with how it was curled about itself. It was very fleshy and a tiny bit slimy to the touch.

Clifton Gorge is such a fascinating place to explore; one could easily spend a day there. I plan for a return visit soon and hope to find the rare Snow Trillium in full bloom.


  1. First of all, I love the flower photos!
    And second.. for some reason the red fungus looks like a piece of unfinished watermelon. Am I the only one who has such weird associations? :)

  2. Thanks for the trip...loved the flowers and waterfall...

  3. Thanks Katya and Dawn,

    I can't wait to go back in a few weeks. Hopefully I will get some more fun pictures to share!

  4. I'll have to look on a map to see where this lovely place is located. Thanks for the intro.

  5. Those little purple plants are stunning. The big red fungus, not so much!