Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring's first fiddleheads!


Today I went on my first fern field trip of the season, in Grant County, Wisconsin, with Susan and Steven Carpenter (of the UW Arboretum and Zoology Department, respectively). We had a great time! We spent several hours walking all around a huge, forested bluff and saw lots of plants. Spring has been extremely slow in arriving this year, so though the ferns were abundant, they were mostly still unfurled fiddleheads. It was interesting to see several different species side by side in this early developmental stage, and I'll post pictures of the ones we saw over several posts.

The most dominant fern at this site was clearly the Interrupted fern, Osmunda claytoniana. This species is easy to tell even this early because of the white fuzz of hairs that covers the fiddleheads and is also present in other close relatives, like the Cinnamon fern. With O. claytoniana, though, you can actually see the fertile pinnae that will make up the "interrupted" part of the frond even when the fiddleheads are quite small. This species was all over the north-facing side of the bluff, and according to Susan and Steve it becomes almost forest-like itself by summer! In the first photo below you might be able to make out some of the clumps of Interrupted fern covering the rocks... and once you've found a couple you'll probably notice more and more...

3 comments:

Saurav said...

the images of ferns are looking nice...

Sally said...

Lovely! I miss these eastern forest species, we have so few ferns here in dry Colorado. The Osmundas are favorites--thanks for showing them!

JSK said...

I love how fiddleheads unfold in the
Spring. Thanks for sharing these photographs.
I find ferns amongst the most frustrating plants to identify. I love your blog subtitle - No seeds, no fruits, no flowers; no problem.