Tim Joseph explaining spirea bushes to the nature walk attendees.
Credit: Kasey Sheridan
Tim Joseph, left, shows spirea shrubs to nature walk attendees, at Cleveland State University, Sept. 20, 2023.

Lunchtime nature walk highlights campus greenery

The nature walk, led by the Office of Sustainability and the university grounds staff, put the spotlight on a number of trees, shrubberies and various other plants on the west side of CSU’s campus.

The Office of Sustainability on Wednesday hosted the first of two nature walks, exploring the west side of CSU’s campus from the Student Center to the business school. The hour-long walk featured various tree and plant species.

Free to attend, the lunchtime nature walk is a great way for students with a green thumb to sharpen their botanical skills or, for less horticulturally-inclined students, to work on earning their green thumb.

Led by groundskeeper and head horticulturist Tim Joseph, the walk featured numerous trees, bushes, vines, flowers and other plant life. Joseph taught the walking group about different species, blooming seasons, tree diseases and various other fun plant facts, including why CSU is a tough environment for plants.

“Under the grass, it’s a bunch of rubble and old building foundations, so trees grow down to that and there’s nowhere else for the roots to go,” Joseph said. “They have to put up with heat, salt, and other poor conditions.”

Despite unfortunate growing conditions, trees on campus continue to defy the odds. 

A tree's roots pushing up the metal grate wrapped around it.

A tree next to the business building with roots pushing up the metal grate surrounding it, Sept. 20, 2023. (credit: Kasey Sheridan) 

"The will to live here is great though," Joseph said. "There’s a lot of research being done on what trees make for good street trees."

Jennifer McMillan, the director of CSU’s Office of Sustainability, who led the tour with Joseph, said the goal of the nature walks is to inspire students to feel more connected to nature.

“We’re trying to get students to care, and I think these walks help students and staff feel connected,” McMillan said. “We really want to show off the groundskeepers’ good work and learn something about plants.” 

“People walk past stuff and they just don’t know what it is,” Joseph added.

On the tour, attendees learned about the difference between nuisance English Ivy and benevolent Boston Ivy, as well as what berries are edible and which are inedible.

Tim Joseph holding a cornelian dogwood berry.

A kousa dogwood berry, Sept. 20, 2023. (credit: Kasey Sheridan)

“Kousa dogwoods have berries that taste like pineapple, the birds love them. Just don’t eat the skin. Hollies have good berries too,” Joseph said. “Cornelian cherry dogwoods have berries that birds love but they’re inedible, don’t eat them.

Want to learn about some of CSU’s plant life on your own?

A tag on an American Sycamore with a QR code linked to CSU's online Horiticultural Map.

An American Sycamore tree tag with a QR code that leads to the online Horticultural Tour Map, Sept. 20, 2023. (credit: Kasey Sheridan)

Numerous trees and plants across campus, like the American Sycamore pictured above, have been tagged with botany labels that feature QR-codes that link to CSU’s Horticultural Tour Map. 

Interested in doing more to keep campus green? Students interested in applying to work for the grounds crew can reach out to Tim Square, the superintendent of grounds, at

Students interested in participating in the next lunchtime nature walk, which will cover the Student Center to the Recreation Center, can meet in front of the Student Center at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The hour-long walk is free to attend, no RSVP is required and more information can be found here.