Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

Family: Oleaceae

Green ash is a common native tree in moist woodlands.  It is a fast-growing tree, so it is also widely planted in residential areas as a shade tree.

It is relatively easy to recognize because of the opposite compound leaves with 7-9 pointed leaflets. The leaflets are somewhat similar to the leaves of a hickory, but a hickory has alternate leaves, and the leaflets of an ash are much smaller and have small teeth, or serrations, on the edges.

Green Ash Leaf

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Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata~Invasive Species)

Family: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)


These plants were introduced into the United States by European settlers to help with erosion and to use as a food source. The plant is high in Vitamin A and C and has a garlic flavor when cooked. It was also once used for medicinal purposes to treat ulcers and gangrene. The problem with the introduction of this plant is its invasive nature. It has the ability to aggressively take over the herbaceous layer of woodlands and displace natural grasses. In the state of Ohio, it is considered an invasive species.  

  Garlic Mustard

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Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

 Family: Fabaceae (Leguminosae) – Pea and Bean Family

The Eastern Redbud is a very distinctive, eye-catching tree, especially in the spring. The pink blossoms emerge before the leaves, and will saturate the twigs and branches with very colorful pea-shaped blossoms.

Eastern Redbud Flowers

The leaves are very distinctive.  Redbuds have heart-shaped leaves with pointed tips, and they are darker green on the upper surface but lighter green underneath.  They turn various shades of yellow in the fall.

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Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

If you are looking for an attractive ornamental tree, a tree that welcomes spring with a bountiful, dazzling, display of color, and a tree that shows off even in fall, consider the Flowering Dogwood. It’s a favorite choice for residential landscaping, parks and nature areas.

flowering dogwood flowers

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Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

Family: Salicaceae

Eastern Cottonwood Map

Eastern Cottonwood can grow to a large tree that is 65–130 feet tall and with a trunk that can be nearly 6 feet in diameter.  This makes it one of the largest North American hardwood trees.

Cottonwoods tend to grow in deep moist soils along the margins of rivers, streams, and lakes.

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LEARN MORE  about the Woods on the Ariel-Foundation Park main site!


A special thanks to the students of the Field Botany class at Mount Vernon Nazarene University who wrote the reports on the various kinds of trees found in The Woods. These students include Chandler Cook, Grace Hall, Emily Kauble, Keith Kitchen, Madison Lotz, Kevin Maurer, Christina Norcross, Caroline Phillips, Dakoda Ramsey, Jacob Schott, Emily Smith, and Katelyn Stone.

All photos linked in this Learning Station courtesy of D. Mosher, Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Appendix I

Plant surveys were done by the Field Botany class at Mount Vernon Nazarene University during the fall semester of 2016.  A summary of the class surveys for woody plants and herbaceous plants is available.