Natural Environment

Organize and host educational events and activities in the community that preserve and foster an awareness of the natural environment of the township.


For two short years Harlem Township was in state records for having the 7th largest white oak tree in the state of Ohio. The giant tree on Fancher Road was estimated to be over 300 years old. Harlem Township Heritage bought a sign to put beside the tree to acknowledge it. And then along came a wind storm and concerns about people traveling under the tree on the road below. After safety studies, the tree was cut down in the fall of 2014. We enjoyed it and state recognition while we could.


 Just because we lost our most obvious big tree doesn't mean there are no other big trees in Harlem Township. Not all big trees are enormous like our oak tree; size of a champion tree depends entirely on the type of tree it is – a native sweet crabapple is miniscule in size compared to the giant oaks.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Forestry Division operates the Ohio Big Tree Program - Anyone can measure and nominate a tree for Ohio Big Tree Status and recognition (ODNR would not have known about our oak tree if a couple of Harlem Township Heritage members had not measured it and submitted it.) The listing of all National champion big trees in the state of Ohio and State Champion Trees can be found at this link -
So if you have some extra time or maybe want a project to work on with your children, look around at the trees around you and see whether any of them should be measured for possible big tree status. It's a worthwhile and fun project.


The face of Harlem Township has changed greatly over the past 50 years with its change from purely rural to semi-suburbia status. Because of this change from cow pastures and plowed farm fields, an unexpected change in our local vegetation is occurring – we are experiencing a greater influx of non-native invasive plant species than we've had in the past. And this makes sense – more fence lines provide more places for alien species to become established, even with more lawn care companies mowing and treating yards.
Just within the last ten years we've had an enormous explosion of some of the top ten alien plant invaders on the ODNR hit list ( ):  garlic mustard, Amur bush honeysuckle, and autumn olive are spreading quickly in Harlem Township and we should do as much as possible to stop this increase (even though Amur bush honeysuckle is a very beautiful plant when it flowers).
  1. Garlic mustard
    Garlic mustard
    Garlic mustard is a biennial herb that begins as a rosette of leaves in the first year, overwinters as a green rosette of leaves, flowers and fruits in the second year, and then dies. First-year rosettes consist of kidney-shaped, garlic-smelling leaves; the second-year plant grows a stem up to 4 feet tall with triangular, sharply-toothed leaves. The small, four-petaled flowers are white and grow in clusters at the top of the stem. Garlic mustard produces large quantities of seeds which can remain viable for seven years or more.
  2. Amur honeysuckle
    Amur honeysuckle
    Amur honeysuckle is an upright shrub that can grow 6 to 15 feet in height. It has dark green, egg-shaped leaves. The tubular flowers are white. Berries range from bright red to orange, occasionally yellow, and are eaten and dispersed by birds. (Morrow's and Tartarian Japanese honeysuckles have been here a long time - the tubular flowers are white on the Morrow's (changing to yellow with age), and pink on the Tatarian.)
  3. Autumn-olive
    Autumn-olive is a fast-growing shrub or small tree reaching up to 20 feet tall. Its leaves are small and oval, dark green on the upper surface and silvery below. Small coppery dots occur on stems and leaves. This shrub has light yellow, aromatic flowers and produces large quantities of small, round red fruits that are readily eaten and spread by birds.


We can all do our part to stop the spread of alien plants, insects, aquatic plants and animals, and other invasive species into Ohio and into our lives. Knowing what to look for is the first step, although sometimes asking for expert help in identifying what you've found that you've never seen before is necessary. Official photographs of the nasty critters are not always super helpful in identifying the problems – the ID photos of the emerald ash borer never looked like the brilliantly emerald metallic bugs we had flying around here.


The emerald ash borer, an invasive insect from Asia, was first discovered in Michigan in 2002. Now just 14 years later, the majority of the ash trees in Harlem Township have been killed or are being killed by this invasive alien.

The impact of the Emerald Ash Borer will have major consequences for Ohio.
1) It's estimated that one in every 10 trees in Ohio is/was an ash tree and loss of these trees will severely impact the ash-elm-cottonwood ecosystems.
2) The estimated impact on property owners having to remove dead trees is estimated at $1 million.
3) The loss of ash as a managed species for Ohio's forest industry is about $2 million.  
  1. Scarlet Pimpernel
    Scarlet Pimpernel
    If you've read (or watched) the story, The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy, about the English nobleman who rescued French nobility in daring raids during the Reign of Terror at the beginning of the French Revolution, you'll be interested to know we have this "wayside flower, very common point of fact", scarlet pimpernel, growing in Harlem Township. Scarlet Pimpernel, also known as Poor Man's Weather Glass, is a low growing annual that likes "light" soils. It's most frequently seen in the township growing along the edges of our roads. It blooms in mid-June and will not become an invasive threat.
  2. Cressleaf Groundsel
    Cressleaf Groundsel
    Cressleaf Groundsel is covering unplanted fields and all available spaces in the township every spring. It is a native plant – but not native here. It is classified as an Ohio noxious weed because it is toxic to grazing livestock. This plant contains compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA’s). These compounds metabolize in the liver to other compounds that are toxic. Poisonings result from consuming significant quantities of the weed. Cressleaf Groundsel is an annual and can be controlled by mowing it down before it has a chance to produce seeds.