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Springtime at the Bog

(Reprinted from On the Fringe, Journal of the Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio, and the Kent/Ravenna Record Courier with revisions by the author, Tom S. Cooperrider).

Kent Bog State Nature Preserve

Sometime in April or May, the leather-leaf shrubs announce the coming of spring to Kent Bog. Overnight, thousands of small, dull white, urn-shaped flowers appear in the shrubs’ branches. Directly after, large numbers of insects arrive. The exact date of the event varies considerable from year to year, depending on the weather.

The bog has only a few conspicuous flowers. Nearly all are white and nearly all open early in the growing season. At about the same time, the leather-leaf shrubs are blooming, a scattering of small; serviceberry trees produce their flowers, each with five, narrow white petals. The blueberry flowers open, whitish and urn-shaped like those of the leather-leaf, fellow members of the same plant family. Last of the spring flowers are those of the chokeberry shrubs, each with five, nearly circular, white petals.

As spring progresses, the young tamarack needles lengthen, and the broad leaves of the birch trees and other woody plants expand. The buried rhizomes of the soft plants send up new shoots and leaves. Across the bog, the silent wheels of photosynthesis begin to turn.

Black-capped chickadees fly among the trees. Occasionally an eastern towhee, with its rufous-colored sides, can be sighted. The secretive, brown veery, with a song some writers call “ethereal” makes its own announcement that spring has come.

The Kent Bog State Nature Preserve is located on Meloy Road in Kent, Ohio. The Heritage Garden at the Governor’s Residence re-creates the essence of a bog and features Chokeberry shrubs, Blueberries, Serviceberry trees, Bog Rosemary, Royal Ferns, Cranberries, Northern Pitcher Plants, Bog St. John’s Wort and live Sphagnum Moss. The Pitcher plants bloom in last half of May and the Cranberries in early June.

Note from the Author: "As an Ohio botanist, I send my thanks to Hope Taft. The natural Heritage Garden is a lasting gift to Ohio, the realization of a brilliant idea." Tom S. Cooperrider. Tom S. Cooperrider is professor emeritus of biological sciences at Kent State University and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ohio Academy of Science. He is the author of many books, including The Dicotyledoneae of Ohio and editor of the Seventh Catalog of the Vascular Plants of Ohio.

Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden
358 North Parkview Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43209