Friday, April 18, 2008

Adiantum pedatum

Another beauty we saw in the Smokies was Maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum. Since it was still relatively early in the season we only managed to find it as fiddleheads just emerging, some of which were quite small. As you can see, the babies were only the size of moss sporophytes. The "wine red" color of these fiddleheads is actually not uncommon in ferns, though in our flora Maidenhair is really the only one for which this is diagnostic. In the tropics there are many ferns which have red blades and stipes when they first emerge in spring. In Adiantum, the stipe and rachis later turn a dark, shiny red which is almost black, and the blades a bright green. There are four Adiantum species in eastern North America, but A. pedatum is the most common, and a frequent fixture of woodlands and gardens..

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