Get to know nature this fall at Blacklick Woods

By Rick Palsgrove
Eastside Editor

This October, visitors to Blacklick Woods Metro Park can learn about everything from fungi to tree folklore to things that go bump in the night.

•Oct. 5, 12:30 p.m. – Fall Fungi Hike, explore fungi along the trails.

“Blacklick Woods is a great place to search for ‘macrofungi’ or fungi large enough to see,” said Colleen Sharkey, Blacklick Woods Metro Park naturalist. “In the fall, you can expect to see late fall polypore, turkey tail, different species of ‘puffballs,’ bird’s nest fungi, and more.”

Sharkey said fungi is an entire kingdom of organisms, separate from plants and animals. She said some estimate there are more than a million species of fungi worldwide, but many are too small to see.

“Why should we care about fungi?” asked Sharkey. “They play a huge part in our lives, as fungi are responsible for the rising of bread, they’re used in medicines, and fungi return nutrients to the soil. Many trees depend on fungi to help absorb nutrients from the soil.”

•Oct. 8, 10 a.m. – Preschoolers: Creature Costumes, wear your own animal costume and discover why animals look the way they do. Meet at Beech Maple Lodge.

Sharkey said kids from ages 3-5, can listen to a story, make a craft, and learn why animals sometimes “dress-up.”

•Oct. 11-12, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Creepy Crawly Weekend, learn about scary, crawly animals and meet some critters dressed for Halloween.

Sharkey said the Nature Center will have exhibits about the scariest animals in Ohio, like spiders, snakes, and bats.

“In addition to our usual live animal exhibits, two special visitors will also be on display: a small snake and a tarantula, both of which are colored orange-and-black,” said Sharkey.

She said the main goal of the weekend is to educate, not to frighten.

•Oct. 18, 2 p.m. – Fall Tree Folklore, take a two-mile hike and learn tree facts.

Sharkey said the soft, delicate leaves of beech trees were once used as bedding in colonial times.

“Some refer to these trees as the ‘gray ghosts’ of the forest because of their smooth gray bark,” said Sharkey. “As we hike the trails, we’ll share fun facts and history of trees, such as the American Beech and more.”

•Oct. 24, 7 p.m. – Things That Go Bump in the Night Campfire, learn about snakes, spiders, bats and more while enjoying a campfire. Meet at Ash Grove Picnic Area.

“Many animals are unfairly vilified in our culture and we will try to dispel some of those myths,” said Sharkey. “Why are people around here terrified of snakes when there aren’t any venomous ones in Columbus? Why do we think bats get tangled in hair when they really don’t? We will try to answer questions like these.”

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