Life's a beech... fern

June 08, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

One of the great joys of returning to an area over and over again... over the years... is that you begin to know what to look for when. First, of course, you get familiar with the commoners, which, in the case of the ferns of Avalonia's Benedict Benson preserve, which I've gotten to know pretty well over the past few years, would include such stalwarts as Hay-scented Fern—this is something of an invasive species—Cinnamon Fern, Sensitive Fern, Rock Polypody, Christmas Fern, and several others. What's useful about familiarity with the expected members of the ancient group of spore-bearers often known collectively as Pteridophytes is that you can almost instantly spot something unexpected, such as this curiosity. It's called, I'm pretty sure, a Broad Beech Fern, and it's unusual in that the leaflets join the midrib with fused wings rather than little stems. What made my day at Benson was that I knew just where to look for it—and when I arrived at the right place, there it was, a little patch of quite uncommon Thelypteris hexagonoptera.


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