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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Need Green Really Bad!


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OK, if the green stuff isn't going to come to me, I'll just have to go find some. Here's a common fern that stays green under the snow all winter. Here it is again.
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These happen to be near the creek in the cemetery, but it will grow most anywhere in the woods. In fact, it is a Wood Fern, Dryopteris intermedia. I've been working hard the last few years to learn more of the ferns. Dryopteris is an easy name to remember when you take it apart. Drys is the same root as is druid and dryad- from the Greek for woods. Pteris just means fern.

Another key thing about wood ferns is that they are "thrice divided." That means that 1. there is a leaf, the blade- the large overall triangular shape outlined in red below. 2. The leaves have leaflets, pinnae- the small triangular divisions outlined in yellow. 3. Each pinnae has another division called a pinnule, in blue. The stem of a fern is called the rachis where the pinnae are, and the stipe between the blade and the base of the plant.
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There are a lot more things to learn about ferns, but this is an easy one, so that's all we need for now. (And for a while... I haven't really gotten beyond the easy ones yet!) Wood ferns grow from a central location in a cluster. You can see that below, where I cleared the dead leaves away.
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I didn't get as good a picture as I should have of the next feature, but you can see that the stipe is very long. In fact it can be 1/3 the length of the blade.
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photo labelFinally, here is the way that you will know that it is Intermediate Wood Fern. On the lowest set of pinnae, the second pinnule from the rachis is longer than the first pinnule. In other words the pinnules marked with yellow arrows are longer than the ones marked in red.

Perhaps this sounds too confusing. But I've discovered that there are a few that are REALLY easy to recognize, and some are even common. This one is both, making it simple to spot. And once you know even a few, then when you see one that isn't on your "Oh, I know that" list, you can go try to look it up.


See (Late) Winter Rainbows II for a long shot of a Spinulose Wood Fern which looks very similar.


5 comments:

rainfield61 said...

Fern in fact is a very beautiful plant, especially the one I find at Cerok Tokun.

jakill said...

Thanks for all that information. It was a fascinating lesson for me.

Ann said...

I don't know all the technical stuff about them but I've always loved the look of ferns.

vanillaseven said...

Scientific explanation for the Fern. Hope you get your green soon :)

Sharkbytes said...

Rainfield- Do share!

jakill- music to the ears of an amateur botanist who would like to entice others to the woods! Stick around. I may be in a fern mood this spring.

Ann- I'm going to try to show some basic kinds this spring.

vanilla- haha! You think that if I get green stuff I won't go into so much detail?

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