Monday, March 24, 2008

The Fern Lover's Companion

I recently found an ebook of George Henry Tilton's 1923 The Fern Lover's Companion: A Guide for the Northeastern States and Canada, which you can download for free here. It's a very beautiful guide and contains lots of illustrations and black-and-white photographs. Some of the taxonomic information is out of date, but it is nonetheless very interesting. It contains some little gems, including a key to the species of Botrychium which explains some of the superstitions associated with the genus:

"Horses that feeding on the grassy hills,
Tread upon moonwort with their hollow heels,
Though lately shod, at night go barefoot home
Their master musing where their shoes be gone."   

Among other things, the moonworts were thought to be capable of unshoeing any horse that walked on them, and of unlocking any lock they touched. This book is full of things like that and well worth perusing.

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