Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I have returned from the beautiful, balmy mountains of Costa Rica to the frozen hellscape of Madison, WI, where during my absence there was a week when the temperature didn't go above 8 degrees Fahrenheit. Glad I missed that, although today's -1 isn't proving too pleasant either. Given the bone-numbing weather I find myself pining for Costa Rica's beautiful ferns, so I will focus on them for a few posts.

This beauty is a species of Nephrolepis, a genus in Polypodiales that is characterized by, among other things: an apex that remains curled in a fiddlehead, and articulate pinnae that fall off the rachis. The popular house plant Boston Fern is a species of Nephrolepis, but it tends to leave a mess behind when it decides to shed its pinnae. This one was growing as an epiphyte in a rainforest preserve, called Braulio Carrillo, which we visited on the return trip from La Selva to San Jose.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


In this inaugural blog post, it seems appropriate to talk about the fern I've chosen for my header image. It is a species of Campyloneurum from Costa Rica, where I'm currently taking a course on Tropical Ferns & Lycophytes through the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium of colleges and universities from around the world.

Campyloneurum is a genus in the Polypodiaceae, and this species was collected at Las Cruces Research Station, which is maintained by OTS near San Vita, Costa Rica, close to the Panamanian border. Campyloneurum is an epiphyte with simple, entire leaves, veins that form a net (said to be anastomosing), and round sori that lack the covering called an indusium which is found over each sorus in many ferns. In this picture each large round clump is a sorus, and the smaller orange glassy-looking things that are piled up to make it are the sporangia. These contain the spores, and they will dry and split open when the spores are mature and ready to be dispered.