Introduction to Online Version of  the Flora (2019)     

The Manual of the Vascular Plants of Franklin County was initiated as a comprehensive inventory of the ferns, coniferous plants, and flowering plants of this important region of central Ohio.  Because the capital city, Columbus, occupies this county, the impression may be given that little natural diversity exists.  Thanks to the foresight of many civic-minded conservationists over previous decades, a series of Metropolitan Parks has been established, which harbors an amazing inventory of plant life.  In addition to these reserves, other areas of the county also contain an abundance of native plants.  Further, many introduced plants also are found in the county, some having arrived with original European immigrants, and others having colonized more recently.

                With generous support from the Bill & Edith Walter Foundation of Columbus (James E. and Betty B. Lane, Trustees), Dr. Richard M. Lowden was contracted in 1989 to prepare a floristic and historical treatment of the vascular flora of Franklin County.  Lowden personally scoured all areas of the county and examined historical specimens collected from the county over the past 150 years. These specimens are housed in numerous herbaria of the state, particularly in the Herbarium of Ohio State University. This comprehensive approach allowed documentation not only of what grows in Franklin County at the present time but also what the changing patterns of plants over the past decades have been as the Columbus metropolitan area has enlarged. Due to the scope and detail of scholarship involved with production of the Manual, it is without doubt one of the most comprehensive county floras ever written.

                Dr. Lowden’s manuscript on the Manual of the Vascular Plants of Franklin County was completely prepared and made ready for publication in 1997, but for various reasons, it never saw the light of day.  Because of the importance of this work, it is now offered online for use by all interested persons.  The work has keys to species, short descriptions, specimens cited, and also illustrations.  It has been scanned from the original manuscript without further editing. The nomenclature follows that of the authoritative comprehensive work at the time, Gleason and Cronquist’s 1991 Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Since then there have been substantial advancements in our understanding of plant phylogeny, with corresponding modification of the order of presentation, the composition of some families, and the scientific names of many species, changes that are not incorporated here.

The mode of digital presentation, designed and implemented by Dr. Robert Klips of the Ohio State University Herbarium, allows easy access by the user to the entire work.  It is anticipated that the typical user of this site, having some familiarity with the earlier nomenclature, will locate species of interest by navigating to the appropriate plant families through each of the six lists displayed under the “Taxonomic Treatments” menu item. Each family is covered by a separate PDF that can be read on its web page or downloaded and printed for convenient nature study in one of the Metro Parks or elsewhere in the county (or even in neighboring counties of central Ohio).  

                To add further information for the reader, two articles are also posted here along with the Manual.  One is from the Columbus Monthly that describes work on the Manual when it was in progress.  The other article was published by Dr.  Lowden in the international journal Taxon in 1997, which deals with historical aspects of the flora of the county, with focus on the early botanists Dr. John Riddell and William S. Sullivant.

Prof. Dr. John V. Freudenstein
Director, Herbarium
The Ohio State University, Columbus

(click on images for pdf )

 Original Preface by Richard Lowden (1997)

The following account, inherent to the way this study on the vascular flora of Franklin County originated under the auspices of The Ohio State University (where the author received his B.A. in biological sciences 1964. M.Sc. in botany-taxonomy 1967, and Ph.D, with concentration in plant systematics 1971), conveys the way I became interested in botany early in life, inspired by the teaching philosophy practiced in the Botany Department at The Ohio State University. and recognizes selected taxonomic works used in the presentation of this manual of Franklin County’s vascular flora.

The “Holy Trinity” (Transeau, Sampson & Tiffany, 1953) or “Transamany” as some called it (Meyer, 1983) had reached the Columbus North High School in the late 1950’s. This Textbook of Botany was my first exposure to the botany program at The Ohio State University, introducing me to the principles and concepts that would have a lasting impact on what became my life career. It was opportune to be exposed early to the university’s academic programs, and as such my interest in botany was captivated before entering the university .

Those who taught in the General Botany program at The Ohio State University were devoted to the unique situation in which the classroom was used as an integrated lecture-discussion-laboratory. This methodology of teaching, here referred to as “Transamany,” was a discipline that gave direction and organization, not only to the students, but to the daily teaching-research schedules of its professors. Since “Transamany” was a departmental function, all its members, with rare exception, believed and participated in it. Through observations of demonstrations the students were led, at first, in a conscientious manner to exercise their mental abilities to solve the problem at hand, using sheer observed facts. Later, once discovering the whole process, the student not only experienced that he could think, but that he could solve the problem, research it, and write about it on his own, as well. In all, it was a unique method that stimulated a state of complete mental satisfaction in the student’s academic capabilities.

This methodology required a very close control over the teaching environment, including even the actual appearance of the classroom. Living plants, always the center of attention, were brought into the classroom from the field or greenhouse. Microscopes, lamps, slide boxes, trays, dissecting materials, tables, and even chairs bad to be correctly spaced so there was direct eye contact between professor and students. The demonstrations of the day were always placed on the front table. Readily, the student’s attention was captured by the demonstration to be observed, which was the principal object for discussion in each class session. Table tops and microscopes were impeccable, polished and even shined to a mirror effect in some courses. The students wondered with amazement, as did some beginning professors –Why so much fuss? That was the beauty of it all ; the professors who taught in this botany program were so devoted to teaching and cared so much for !.heir students that the program was exceptionally successful through the years.

Each class hour was carefully planned, down to the minutes needed to make the required observations and draw the proper inferences. The results were obvious, since the student was being taught how to think without being told what to think. Reading assignments and lectures were always given after the discussion of demonstrations. No need to lecture or read about it, if the student could not first evolve his thinking capacity to understand the principles and concepts based on his ability to observe. The student soon learned to generate valid conclusions on his own. It was a real learning situation that developed in the student a basic appreciation and understanding of plant structure and function. It was this teaching method that integrated the Botany Department for years, and in like manner, was applied to the development of most courses offered in the Graduate Botany Program at The Ohio State University.

The main attraction at the Botany Depanment’s annual “Dandelion Party” was the reenactment of these teaching experiences with the participation of teachers, staff, graduate students, and even potential undergraduates. This close human relationship between staff, teachers, and students can hardly be forgotten; it has inspired me frequently during my 28 years of teaching, and has brought back, as I am sure it has to all those who taught or received instruction under this regime, a nostalgic feeling that sustains one’s belief in higher education. Despite all that has been done to improve the educational system with modem technology –televisions, audiovisual aids, computers, internet etc. –no one or a combination of these advances in technology can replace the human-caring element in the learning process, nor replace the pleasure derived from the student’s discovery of the truth as it relates to the observations of the living organisms around him.

In a relatively short period of time, inbreeding (hiring their own Ph.D. graduates and, in some cases, those with all three degrees from The Ohio State University) had formed a botany faculty that achieved academic excellence in all areas of its botany program–physiology, plant pathology, taxonomy, ecology, morphology, anatomy, plant genetics, phycology, mycology, and lichenology. The prolific production of textbooks, workbooks, and laboratory manuals that accompanied the formation of this Graduate Program in Botany were proof enough of the academic excellence that flourished under the inter-disciplinary treatment of these teaching areas in botany at The Ohio State University . Surely, future generations could benefit from the example of this outstanding teaching legacy . I can recommend that any biological science course, including those teaching situations using the contents of this manual of the vascular plants of Franklin County, can only benefit from the application of the aforesaid teaching method.

Two regimes of departmental chairmanships, that of Edgar N. Transeau (1917-46) and Bernard S. Meyer (1946­-66), were responsible for directing the coherent way teamwork propagated this exceptional model of botanical teaching and research at The Ohio State University (Meyer, 1983). Many of the botany professors who taught under these regimes have received recognition for their outstanding devotion to teaching and research. In the area of taxonomy, Clara Gertrude Weishaupt (1898-1991) was one of those who received the Distinguished Service Award from The Ohio State University in 1984 for her “vital service in preserving the botanical heritage of Ohio and in helping people identify unknown plants” (from the 288th Commencement program, 8 June 1984).

In a way to be admired, Clara Weishaupt was responsible for forming her career in taxonomy at The Ohio State University, where she received three degrees (B.S. in home economics 1924, M.Sc. & Ph.D. in plant physiology 1932 & 1935). Because she was never formally trained in taxonomy, her teaching and research potential in taxonomy evolved through the “Transamany” method of teaching employed by Weishaupt and her colleagues in the Botany Department. Her love for taxonomy began in high school with the formation of a small herbarium of pressed plants. At The Ohio State University, the teaching doctrine that she loved. and was completely devoted, helped her organize her thoughts as she critically observed and identified thousands of plant specimens under the dissecting microscope. Her 18 years as curator of the University Herbarium (1949-67) were industriously spent identifying plants for the treatment of Ohio’s vascular flora. She spent 22 years teaching in the General Botany and Local Flora courses (1946-68), which provided the needed experimental lecture-discussion-laboratory for the perfection of the keys she designed for plant identifications. This monumental task culminated in a field and laboratory manual for the identification of Ohio’s vascular flora, a research founded on 19 years of experience in preparing keys. Her impulse to write keys originated in the Botany Department as a co-author of a ~Guide to Ohio Plants~ written in 1952. From this moment, Weishaupt continued on her own to prepare a complete treatment of the State’s vascular flora, until she finished writing and perfecting various editions of her manual Vascular Plants of Ohio (1960, Revised Edition 1968, Third Edition 1971).

Still today Weishaupt’s manual which was written with the beginning student in mind represents the only single volume of keys for the identification of Ohio’s Vascular Flora. The keys in Weishaupt’s Vascular Plants of Ohio have endured the test of time and have been highly usable by undergraduate and graduate students in the plant taxonomy program offered by The Ohio State University. In like manner, students, researchers , and educators at other in-state, and even out-of-state universities have used this manual with great success. Weishaupt’s manual received much field and laboratory use by students enrolled in the Field Botany and Higher Aquatic Plants courses taught during the summer terms of The Ohio State University ‘s Lake Erie biological field station at Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory, Gibraltar Island. Here, along with other advanced students doing floristic research for obtaining the master degree in taxonomy, I had the opportunity to test and appreciate the years that Weishaupt dedicated in perfecting this excellent manual. The Local Flora teachers at The Ohio State University used her Vascular Plants of Ohio frequently in the field and laboratory, where we became staunch believers in its teaching merit and scientific value for identifying Ohio’s vascular flora.

In the summer of 1988 I returned to my native Columbus to attend Clara Weishaupt’s 90th birthday party (Stuckey, 1988), and to respond to a post-doctoral announcement to work on the vascular flora of Franklin County. Shortly after this commemorative event, I spent the month of August searching for all literature pertaining to Franklin County’s vascular flora. Upon returning to the Dominican Republic, I compiled a Literature Survey (Lowden, April 1989) for the vascular plants of Franklin County. In the spring of 1989 I presented this Literature Survey (along with approx. 10,000 index cards) to the Department of Plant Biology. I began another search that summer for herbarium specimens from Franklin County deposited in The Ohio State University Herbarium, other Ohio herbaria, and the Johnathan Roberts Paddock collection at the University of Illinois. All specimen labels were xeroxed and bound in a separate volume for research purposes. Ar this time I also initiated my own field work by collecting vascular plants throughout the county. These herbarium specimens formed the basis for a second survey of the county’s vascular flora entitled Herbarium Survey (along with approx. 7,000 index cards; Lowden, April 1990).

Having completed both surveys, Literature & Herbarium , the foundation had been prepared for the critical study of the taxonomy of the county’s vascular flora under the “Franklin County Plant Information System.” This study took place in the herbarium at the Museum of Biological Diversity, The Ohio State University, where I spent two full years (1991-92) making determinations and checking identifications of more than 14,000 plant specimens. The results of this herbarium research were presented in a nine volume “Catalogue of the Vascular Flora of Franklin County, Ohio· (Lowden, 1991·92) following the arrangement of plant families used in the Eighth Edition of Gray’s Manual of Botany (Fernald, 1950), the same arrangement used by the Ohio Flora Project.

While preparing my Catalogue of the vascular flora of Franklin County, the Second Edition of the “Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States & Adjacent Canada” by Henry A. Gleason & Arthur Cronquist (1991) was published . In somewhat a reluctant way, I began to recheck the identifications and nomenclature of Franklin County’s vascular plants with this new regional flora. Results revealed the inevitable need to reorganize my Catalogue following the Cronquist System for the classification of flowering plant families, and to reconsider seriously the presentation of Franklin County ‘s vascular flora in the form of a manual, Significant state and national floras had already adopted the widely accepted Cronquist System, just as The Ohio State University Herbarium had reorganized its flowering plant collections following the phylogentic family sequence of the Cronquist System.

Although the overall focus of the ongoing Ohio Flora Project, under the direction of the Ohio Flora Committee of The Ohio Academy of Science, has been at the state level, it has contributed substantial county data based on herbarium vouchers represented by dot maps . Braun (1961, 1967), Fisher (1988), and Cooperrider (1995) have treated for Franklin County, 159 woody species (incl. 4 gymnosperms), 225 monocots, 403 dicots from the Linaceae through the Campanulaceae, and 156 Asteraceae, respectively. In the unpublished checklist of Furlow (1991) for the families Saururaceae through Fabaceae 332 dicots are listed for Franklin County. A total of 1,116 vascular taxa in Franklin County have been treated under the Ohio Flora Project. Considering only those volumes of “The Vascular Flora of Ohio” finished under the Ohio Flora Project, the present study presents a 46% increase in the number of monocots treated for Franklin County in “Volume One: The Monocotyledoneae, Cat-tails to Orchids ” (Braun, 1967); as for dicots in “Volume Two: The Dicotyledoneae” a 21 % increase over those treated in “Part 2, Linaceae through Campanulaceae” (Cooperrider, 1995), and a 27% increase over those treated in “Part 3, Asteraceae” (Fisher, 1988).

The scope of the Ohio Flora Project over the past 45 years has been the treatment of the vascular flora of the state, however, the ferns and gymnosperms have not been the focus of interest. A complete treatment of the vascular flora should include these two groups which also need comprehensive treatments. Despite this discrepancy, an estimate can be made of the number of vascular plants in the state considering the 75 ferns and 16 gymnosperms recognized by Weishaupt (1971) in her manual on the “Vascular Plants of Ohio..” Adding these totals to the 650 (-700) monocots (Braun, 1967),743 (-789) dicots (Furlow, 1991), 700 dicots (Cooperrider, 1995), and 276 dicots (Fisher, 1988) reveals, at present, an estimated total of 2,556 vascular plants in the state of Ohio.

The present study of Franklin County’s vascular flora reports a total of 1,8 18 vascular plants, of which 1,652 are formally treated in keys and ordered according to Gleason & Cronquist (1991 , along with 166 taxa mentioned informally after family or generic descriptions. In Appendix V, sixteen percent (16%) of these plants are considered to be new records, of which 62% were based on records after 1900. The knowledge of Franklin County’s vascular plants as presented in this county flora discloses that two thirds of the vascular flora of the state of Ohio has existed at one time or another in Franklin County during the past 160 years.

These increases in plant reports for Franklin County beyond those recorded by the Ohio Flora Project are supportive of the belief that field work and taxonomic studies at the county level can be quite productive. Continuous urban development in Franklin County places it, as it does many of Ohio counties, in a constant flux as to the actual number of species considered to be true inhabitants. Surprisingly, the large number of vascular plants recognized for Franklin County was responsible, in part, for the treatment of its vascular flora in a manual that serves not only this county but those with similar floristic compositions in the Central Ohio Region.

Consequently, with a manual treatment of only Franklin County’s vascular plants in mind , I decided to adapt for this purpose the keys and descriptions in Weishaupt’s Vascular Plants o/Ohio (Third Edition, 1971), updating them according to the Cronquist System and nomenclature of the “Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada” by Gleason & Cronquist (1991), and illustrating them with drawings from “The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada” (Gleason, 1952a-c). The permission for the drawings was obtained from The New York Botanical Garden , and the actual preparation of a manual of the vascular plants of Franklin County began in 1993.

Toward the end of 1995 I had formatted the prototype of this Manual on the computer and had processed the above materials (Literature Survey, Herbarium Survey, and Catalogue; deposited in The Ohio State University Herbarium, Museum of Biological Diversity, Columbus) in an eight volume “Illustrated Manual of the Vascular Plants of Franklin County. Ohio” (Lowden, 1993·95). A provisional computer printout of this Manual was tested at The Ohio State University by students in Local Flora (Plant Biology 210) during the Spring Quarters of 1995-96 under the direction of Professor Daniel J. Crawford (Department of Plant Biology).

Eight years of continuous work were devoted to this research. This task materialized through the understanding and interest of James E. Lane (President of the Walter Foundation), whose generous support and friendship enabled me to finish this project. Among other things, this experience taught me to use the computer in floristic research, and it gave me a better teaching understanding of the latest advances made in angiosperm phylogeny by Arthur Cronquist.

Most appropriate here are the “In Memoriam” words about this “giant in botany expressed by Theodore M. Barkley (1992). “Our generation of biologists has the privilege of remembering Art as one of the most able and influential botanists of our time. Posterity will liken him to Asa Gray, for Arthur Cronquist was as important to the science of our century as was Asa Gray to the science of his.” A Central Ohio Flora: Manual of the Vascular Plants of Franklin County is the first complete vascular flora in Ohio to follow the Cronquist System, and it is inevitable that once the ongoing Ohio Flora Project is finished, the work will begin to update and reorganize its outstanding systematic treatments accordingly –a task undoubtedly for the 21st Century.

Richard M. Lowden
Director, EI Herbario “Rafael M. Moscoso”
Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra
Santiago de los Caballeros
Republica Dominicana


The Franklin County Plant Information System was patronized by the outstanding contributions made by the Bill & Edith Walter Foundation. I personally thank James E. Lane (Foundation President & Trustee) and Betty B. Lane (Trustee) for their absolute understanding that promoted this project. Other substantial contributions were made by The Ohio State University (College of Biological Sciences, Office of Research and Graduate Studies, Quincentennial Committee, and Department of Plant Biology), Columbus Foundation, Ohio Biological Survey, Wolfe Associates, Mrs. Jane Ellis, The Jeffrey Fund of the Columbus Foundation. and Ronald L. Stuckey.

The College of Biological Sciences of The Ohio State University is acknowledged for the administrative functions performed by Tod F. Stuessy (Director of the Project), Anne Kochman (Development Officer), and Ralph Boerner (Chairperson of the Department of Plant Biology). At the University’s Museum of Biological Diversity, sincere thanks is extended to Daniel J. Crawford (Herbarium Director), John Furlow (Herbarium Supervisor), Brian J. Armitage (Director of Ohio Biological Survey), and Charles King (ex-Director of Ohio Biological Survey).

Use of the new berbarium facilities at the Museum of Biological Diversity is recognized, where the author is most grateful to Ronald L. Stuckey for making available books, maps, and manuscripts from his personal library and historical files. It was Dr. Stuckey who brought to my attention the interest of the Department of PIant Biology to realize this study of the county’s vascular flora. Data entries to the Franklin County Plant Information System were developed at the Museum under the computer guidance of John Furlow and John W. Frederick.

Plant figures used in the manual portion of this flora were reprinted by permission from The New Britton and Brown Illustrated Flora of The Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, by Henry A. Gleason, Copyright 1952, The New York Botanical Garden,

The following institutions are acknowledged for making specimen loans available through their herbarium facilities: Bowling Green State University (BGSU), Ohio University (BHO), University of Cincinnati (CINC), Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CLM), Denison University (DEN), University of llIinois (ILL), Kent State University (KE), Miami University (MU), Muskingum College (MUS), The Ohio State University (OS) , Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU), Urbana University (URB), and College of Wooster (WOOS).

Thanks are extended to Allison W. Cusick (Research Associate, OSU Herbarium) and James S. McConnac, both at the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves (ODNR), for their contribution of recent plant collections and publications. The following persons are acknowledged for their help and assistance: Diane Abel, Thomas Berg, James Bissell, Thallia Bligbt, Veda M. Cafazzo, Pilar & Steve Childers, Jim Davidson, Melanie L. DeVore, Hugh Durbin, Wayne Ellett, Carol & Pete Galupo, Charo Rosario Granados, Josefina Guzman-Burgos, Mary Harper, Michael Herschler, Bette Hellinger, Roger Hubbel. Edward F. Hutchins, Terry Jaworski, George N. Jones, Pat Jones, Rosemary Kullman, Elias Landolt, Cannen M. Liriano, George J. Phinney, Kathy Royer, James E. Stahl, Nancy Tomei, Jane Ware, John Watts, Barry L. Weber, and Sandra Wicker.

The author’s home University, Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (Santiago, Dominican Republic), is gratefully recognized for its permission to let me work on this project. My wife, Rafaela, and children, Andrea, Max, and Margaret, are truly appreciated for their enduring understanding and moral support.

I give special recognition to the following institutions and mentors of botany for their outstanding contributions to teaching. that not only inspired the compilation of this volume, but taught me through observations to appreciate the principles and concepts of botany as a way of life. Columbus North High School: Irvin B. Rickly. and Marian & Edward S. Thomas. The Ohio State University: Glenn W. Blaydes, J. William A. Burley, T. Richard Fisher, Robert M. Giesy, Tillman J. Johnson, Lois Lampe, Bernard S. Meyer, Elton F. Paddock, Richard A. Popham, Emanuel D. Rudolph, Glenn E. Smith, John A. Schmitt, Jr., Ronald L. Stuckey, Tod F. Stuessy, Clarence E. Taft, Adolph E. Waller, and Clara G. Weishaupt.