News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

The Holden Arboretum


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment




Exploradio - Monkshood patrol
One of America's rarest wild-flowers is clinging to life in Cuyahoga Falls and it takes constant vigilance to keep it safe
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Northern Monkshood grows only in sheltered overhangs with plenty of moisture. The 300 plants growing in the Gorge Metro Park represent the largest patch in the state, and perhaps the country.
Courtesy of Karl Simonson
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

A sheltered cliff along the Cuyahoga River is home to one of the last patches of a critically threatened wild-flower.  In this week’s Exploradio we meet the man whose job is to keep critters and people away from the endangered northern monkshood.

Exploradio - Monkshood patrol

Other options:
MP3 Download (3:03)


(Click image for larger view.)

The plant is also called wolfsbane because it contains a powerful poison that was once used to kill wolves, and deter werewolves.  The more common name, monkshood, refers to the shape of the delicate blue flower, reminiscent of a medieval monk’s cowl.  Summit Metro Parks biologist Rob Curtis says the beautiful plant lives up to its killer reputation.

“It’s lethal if you eat it, it will stop your heart.  But it has potential there medicinally… related to the heart.”

Curtis says some animals eat the plant, and don’t always survive –

“A family of woodchucks was in there and we were wondering if it wasn’t the pups doing the initial browsing and maybe mom was losing some pups.”

But a big part of Curtis’ job is to protect the rare plant not just from animals, but also from careless humans.

“There used to be three separate sites down there about 15 years ago, and we lost two of those.”

Northern monkshood is found in only four states, and only known to be in three places in Ohio.  The largest is a patch of 300 plants in the Gorge Metropark in Cuyahoga Falls.  A fence around the flowers keeps critters and campers out. But it does not stop the other factor that’s killing off Monkshood: salt runoff from a nearby highway.

“We have linked a lot of the disappearance to the high saline waters and ODOT has built two diversions along Route 8 to try and capture the salt water before it overflows along the ledges.”

Park biologists have tried planting greenhouse-grown Monkshood in the ledges, but none of those plants survived.

Now Curtis says biologist are taking steps to preserve the plants in the lab in case the fragile wild population is wiped out.

“We want to have some backup, and the plant is notoriously difficult to transplant.  There have only been a couple successful transplants of Northern Monkshood.”     

This month the Seiberling Nature Realm in Akron is displaying monkshood clones --  tiny specimens snipped from a few wild plants -  what they’re calling test tube babies.  Curtis says the clones are on loan from the Cincinnati Botanical Garden, where biologists are testing ways to transplant the finicky Monkshood.  

 “It’s kind of a time game, and we are hoping that we can figure out some of these mysteries so that we’re ready in case something devastating does happen to this population.”

In the meantime, Curtis and the Gorge Metro Park monkshood patrol are keeping a close eye on what may be the last stronghold of one the rarest plants in North America.

 

I’m JSTC with this week’s Exploradio.


Related Links & Resources
Summit Metro Parks website


Related WKSU Stories

Re-establishing Rare Monkshood in Akron's Gorge Park
Friday, August 25, 2006

Exploradio: The natural origins of music
Monday, August 22, 2011

Exploradio - Dragons and Damsels
Monday, July 1, 2013

Exploradio: Inside the Cloud
Monday, July 18, 2011

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Cuyahoga Valley National Park OK's sharpshooters to thin deer herds
In this article you mention that the Mule Deer Foundation is a "hunting group" in reality the Mule Deer Foundation is a conservation group that is over 25 years...

In the driver's seat of history
I believe he was a teacher of mine as James Ford Rhodes. My favorite teacher of all time! Loved learning this part of his amazing history.

Cleveland RTA is moving Public Square bus stops beginning this week
I am very confused. Why are you taking one or more of the park and ride 246 out of service in the morning. I looking over the new schedule I see that there ar...

Canton school board will vote Wednesday on its high school merger
Great to see that THE REPOSITORY is advising a 'no' vote for now! Another point, besides all the Very accurate points already made against this move is the fac...

Some parents opting their students out of Common Core test
I am an 8th grader at a school in Allen County. I have just recently taken the ELA performance based assessment and found it extremely difficult. It asked me a ...

Fallout from the Ohio Supreme Court Munroe Falls ruling
The comment by Nathan Johnson from OEC is confusing. Instead of cities being 'emboldened' to craft zoning laws that were just stricken down by this ruling, comm...

Stopping sediment dumping in Lake Erie
Ah, yes, the Army Coro of Engineers, the geniuses that designed the levee system in New Orleans that has made the flooding worse due to no sediment reaching the...

Ohio charter school critic says reform bills are a good step
The cold truth is that these charter schools are offering services beyond the what the state tests can guage. Parents and students have a choice and they are ch...

State law trumps restrictions on oil and gas drilling in Munroe Falls
Justice O'Neill's quote brings up a point I wish WKSU would address: since, unlike for Federal judges, our judges here in Ohio are elected, and therefore respo...

Ohio Supreme Court invalidates local fracking bans
If Ohio has their way, Fracking Wells will be planted in the courtyard of every town. That is if the State of Ohio can profit by it...for more on how the court ...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University