February and March is a great time to look for vernal pools. A vernal pool is a fishless seasonal depressional wetland. They often appear around this time of year from the snow melt and spring rain, but they can be completely dry the rest of the year. They can range in size from a small puddle to a lake. It might just look like some flooding upon first glance, but they're actually an important wetland for our native flora and fauna. Like any other wetland, vernal pools capture and filter water into the ground.
Why are vernal pools important? They are an important breeding ground and habitat for amphibians and rare plants. Many amphibians travel back to where they were born to reproduce. In fact, it is estimated that up to 85% of amphibians return to breed in the vernal pool where they were born! Birds also use vernal pools for an additional source of food and water. Vernal pools are increasingly threatened due to habitat loss. Plus, they are where you can find some very interesting plants and animals in late winter and early spring.
Some cool animals you might find in a vernal pool: salamanders, newts, frogs, turtles, and macroinvertebrates like crayfish and dragonflies.
Some interesting vernal pool native plants you might find: Skunk Cabbage, Cinnamon Fern, Marsh Marigold, Swamp White Oak, Buttonbush, and native sedges - just to name a few!
Where might you find one? There are several in our local Metro Parks.
- Blacklick Woods - Buttonbush Trail Boardwalk
- Glacier Ridge - Marshhawk Trail
- Highbanks - Overlook Trail (must stay on the trail)
- Inniswood - Frog Talk Walk Boardwalk (must stay on the trail)
- Scioto Grove - Overlook Trail
- Sharon Woods - Edward Thomas Trail (must stay on the trail)
- Walnut Woods - Sweetgum Trail