Woodland Loop Trail
Text by by William R. Adams, Former Park Naturalist
Entrance to the Woodland Loop Trail
The Woodland Loop Trail is easy to moderate. Allow thirty minutes to one hour for walking the approximately 3/4 mile (1.2 kilometer) trail. Over 230 species of flowering plants have been found at the Falls of the Ohio and the many of these can be seen along this Woodland Loop Trail, as it passes through two diverse habitats: Upper and Lower Woodlands.
You will learn about the use of some of these plants by Native Americans and early settlers. Please remember that such information is being given in a historical context only. Too much remains unknown about the complex chemistry of wild plants to recommend their consumption or medicinal use.
1 River Cane (Arundinaria gigantea)
The tall, Bamboo-like plant is River Cane. It was a very important construction material to Native American people. The tall trees above you are Black Locust (Robinia pseudo-acacia). Fence posts can be made from the durable wood of this tree.
2 Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
This large tree is easily recognized by the long branched spines on the trunk. Livestock and wildlife consume the sweet pulp of the seedpods. The spines have been used as pins.
3 Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
Notice the corky ridges in the bark of this tree, making it easy to identify. The small, but sweet fruits are eaten by birds and were used by Native Americans in the making of pemmican, a concentrated, long storing food.
4 Cottonwood trunk (Populus deltoides)
The cottonwood is one of the largest eastern hardwoods, attaining (as this specimen does) a height of over one-hundred feet. The bark contains salicin, a precursor to acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Notice the large poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) vine growing up the trunk. Contact with this very common plant will produce an allergic reaction (usually a skin rash and severe itching) in most people. Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) can be used to temporarily relieve the itch of poison ivy. In Summer, look for Jewelweed (with irregular orange or yellow flowers and an almost clear, juicy stem), all along the trail just ahead.
5 Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
This small tree prefers open spaces. The ripe berries were once used in jams, jellies, pies, and wines. All other parts of the plant, including the unripe berries, act as a strong laxative and are toxic.
Created January 11, 2010, Last updated April 21, 2015