Field of Science

Fern Envy

The Phactor's beach house is quite nicely landscaped for both attractiveness and privacy. And the selection of several plants shows a bit more imagination going beyond the typical UTF (ubiquitous tropical flora - Don't get me started!). So while sitting on the veranda enjoying the gentle (OK, a bit stronger than gentle) breezes blowing in off the Coral Sea, a fern catches my eye. Or at least my initial assumption was fern, but without any good reasons why. Several of the hanging baskets, of basket ferns and clusters of elkhorn ferns on tree trunks have long slender fronds hanging limply below, and it was clearly something different. The locals call it ribbon fern. Some of the long, slender fronds are dichotomously lobed apically, and then the whole thing became clear. There were fertile fronds with two rows of big fat sporangia fused basally to the fertile fronds, which leads you to the inescapable conclusion that even though this is a tropical epiphytic fern, there is only one thing in the world this fern can be which is a species of Ophioglossum, which turns out to be O. pendulum, a native of Queensland (sorry connection too slow to upload my images), and the Phactor is so jealous. Hope this fern is in the trade somewhere so it can be obtained in N. America.

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