Field of Science

Fabulous Flora - Fern

It's not the time of year when you expect to see much going on in the forest, but you know, going for a walk with birders in search for the "confusing fall warblers".  So as TPP is always looking down, this fern popped right out.  Like spring wild flowers this little fern was expected in the spring, although this particular species has leaves that turn bronze and persist until spring. It was not expected to have fertile fronds.  This is one of the rattlesnake ferns, formerly the genus Botrychium, but now Sceptridium, S. dissectum obliquum,  the bronze fern.  TPP really hates this name change, as the older genus has been in the memory banks for at least 45 years.  This plant consists of either one or two leaves, one sterile frond, which can be somewhat bigger, and more dissected, than this one, and a second frond that consists largely of sporangia (cream colored here), which when present rises above the fertile frond (the petioles can be fused appearing as one).  The gametophytes are subterranean and so are seldom seen.  The whole fern is only about 5-6 inches tall.  It's not actually rare but seldom noticed.  This fern may be a bit mixed up because of the weather like a few other plants. Because such plants are seldom noticed, many people think they are rare plants; sort of but not as much as they think.

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