Dean M. Chriss
Tree Roots #1, Ohio, Landscape Photograph

Roots #1, Ohio

(Click image to enlarge)

In search of water and nutrients, the roots of this tree have meandered over and probed cracks in the side of a massive ledge. It has survived by clinging to this ledge for decades.

Northeast Ohio contains several areas composed of sandstones and conglomerates that were not deeply covered with glacial sediments. Further erosion of the softer glacial till over the centuries has exposed massive rock ledges like the one seen in this photograph. The ledge here is composed of Sharon Conglomerate over a ground level layer of Cuyahoga Shale.

Sharon Conglomerate is made of sediments deposited during a time when Ohio was a broad coastal plain with meandering and braided streams flowing from the Alleghenian Orogeny mountain range to the east. These westward-flowing streams carried smoothly eroded white
quartzite pebbles and granules that are readily visible within the conglomerate, the bulk of which is sandstone. These large ledge-forming blocks of Sharon Conglomerate, some the size of houses, were originally outlined by a perpendicular joint pattern that can easily be observed in the bedrock. The movement of the blocks has created a maze of passageways that are home to a wide variety of wildflowers, trees, and ferns.