Friday, June 5, 2009

Cave Lake Ohio Heritage Naturalist Hike

Cave Lake is located in Pike County near Latham, OH. We were visiting there as part of the Ohio Heritage Naturalist hikes put on by our fearless leader Rick Gardner. We had a great day and saw a plethera of good plants and spectacular scenery. And, ahem, I am the volunteer naturalist for the place. It helps that my Big Brother, Charlie is on the board... : )
One of our first plants Smooth Phlox, Phlox glaberrima, is somewhat of a rarity and is only listed in seven counties of Ohio on USDA Plants. Such a cheery, pretty little plant. I couldn't resist taking lots of pictures of it.

Upper leaves of Virginia Snakeroot

The flower of Virginia Snakeroot can be viewed once you push the leaf litter away

Another interesting find was Virginia Snakeroot, Aristolochia serpentaria. You have to dig under the leaf litter to find the flower on this one. The reddish flowers are designed to mimic carrion and are believed to be pollinated by flies.The flowers have an interesting pollination method. The tube of the flower is lined with hairs that point inward. This allows entry, but no exit. Once inside, the fly is trapped. The flower will shed pollen onto the insect and then the hairs will wilt giving the fly its freedom so it can do it all over again. Weird... Fascinating, but weird. Virginia Snakeroot is a cousin to Pipevine, and is one of the larval food plants for Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly.

Sullivantia has an interesting story to go along with it. And since I am lazy, I will just send you to Jim McCormac's blog to find out more. Anyway, it has delicate flowers similar to baby's breath in mid-June. At Cave Lake, Sullivantia grows on the walls of Frost Cave, a cave that houses the rare Frost Cave Isopod, Caecidotea rotunda.

A beautiful waterfall is located near the dam at Cave Lake. We climbed up a nearby cliff and looked down upon the waterfall. WOW! My friend Tom Arbour is the tiny person in the center of the pic below. Heelllloooooooo, Tom!

And, of course, one of my favorites from the trip. The Firepinks. They were everywhere. Its cousin, Wherry's Catchfly, another rarity, also resides at Cave Lake.
The brilliant scarlet star-shaped flowers of Fire Pinks always make me smile.

All day we hadn't seen a reptile until the very end. Tom Arbour spotted this big Fence Lizard. At first he thought it was a rat. It scurried up the tree and I had to use my zoom to get a pic. You can tell it was finding plenty to eat, little porky!

Such an awesome place to visit. I hope I can get back there again this summer and share some more pics with you!


  1. What a delightful native flora and a beautiful environment in which to enjoy them - looks like a wonderful hike you had there.
    Rob :)

  2. Very informative post!

    I have seen Aristolochia californica, but I have yet to see Aristolochia in Ohio.

  3. Great post Janet!
    You really need to put both of your blogs on the Nature blog network..They are great and informative and perfect for the Nature blog network!