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.

Don Drumm Studios

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Lehmans


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

Exploradio: Avoiding the 'acting-white' trap
Growing-up black and being black should not determine that you will not speak well or will not be a high achiever in your goals in life.But society te nds to la...

Charter-school supporters to rally at Statehouse
I am on the bus now headed to the rally. Horizon is an excellent school. My son is is 7 th grade. The teachers and administrators are top notch and spend so m...

Former Nursing Home Land Added to Parks
In addition, LED technology also plays a very important role in advertising- LED placard is very, very useful for shop owners.

Ohio Supreme Court hears arguments on school funding
That's not true. Other school districts HAVE followed this law and done this. Oakhills is one of them and how they were able to provide technology for their s...

Death and beauty at Cleveland's Museum of Contemporary Art
What a disgusting story to air at lunch time.

Ohio Supreme Court grills attorneys on flooding and million-dollar fixes
Perhaps the State of Ohio should take the lead and implement state wide water shed districts that would collect minimum fees. The funds could then be distribute...

More Ohio schools are adding STEM + arts to come up with STEAM
STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Not Education! Your first sentence and intro to this article is incorrect. Please correct this inaccuracy....

Body found in Brecksville park identified as Hillary Sharma
When will we learn the cause of death? We live here and if there's foul play, we have a right to know.

FitzGerald isn't giving up, but many Stark voters are worried, wary and weary
SB5 stands for "Snow Ball 5" because voters have about a snow ball's chance of remembering what it was.

Columbus groups are trying to pass a Bill of Rights to combat fracking
Its about time we make a stand against the criminal actions of an entire Indsutry.

Copyright © 2014 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