PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP —
They looked and they tasted, they picked leaves and they tromped through mud, but the Edgewood High School botany team took first place in the Ashtabula Botany Competition, event chairperson Mary Howe said.
Six Ashtabula County school districts and the Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus participated in the 13th annual competition, organized by Barrie Bottorf, Bruce Loomis and Howe and sponsored by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Gazette Newspapers and the Ashtabula County Parks Foundation. Donors to the program include the Jefferson Memorial Foundation, the East Ashtabula Sportsmen’s Club and the Holden Arboretum.
Students were challenged to identify 31 clearly marked specimens from Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide.
“This is a tough competition,” Bottorf said. “There are two purple violets in this gulf, and one species has rounded hairs inside and the other species has pointed hairs inside. That is the only difference between the species and we asked the students to make the distinction. We did not go easy on them.”
The plant-loving Edgewood students took the first-place plaque by correctly identifying 24 of the 31 plants in the Ashtabula River Gulf, Howe said. The students won $200 for the school for botany supplies, individual tickets to Pioneer Wet and Dry Park, individual passes to Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and individual copies of Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide.
Pymatuning Valley Team V identified 22 plants to take the second place plaque and $100 for their school, along with individual passes to the museum.
Third place was a tie with 20 identified plants each. Pymatuning Valley Team P and Jefferson Team 2 won $50 for their school, a plaque and individual passes to the museum.
The small group of botany enthusiasts who organize the competition also gave awards for the tree identification competition held last fall.
Pymatuning Valley students took first place by identifying 21 of 29 trees. They won $100 for their school and a plaque. Grand River Academy’s two teams came in second and third and won cash prizes as well.
The tree identification challenge was sponsored by the Gazette, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Jefferson Memorial Foundation, and the East Ashtabula Club, and The Ashtabula County Educational Service Center.