Saturday, June 7, 2008

Osmundastrum cinnamomea

As promised, a post on Cinnamon Fern, and not just any Cinnamon Fern: HUGE Cinnamon Fern! I came upon the pictured stand of these giants on Wednesday, in North Carolina, where I was fern-hunting with Tom Goforth of Crow Dog Native Ferns (about whom much more later). We saw these from the car in a recently cleared road-side depression, and stopped to check them out. They are the largest specimens of this species I've ever seen. Cinnamons are easily identified by their "wands," the erect and stick-like cinnamon-colored fertile fronds that emerge among the green sterile fronds and release spores in early summer. You can see individual sporangia in the photo at lower left, and you can just make out some of the dehisced and curled up wands near the base of the plants I'm standing beside. They are very common in moist areas and can often be seen along roadsides. 

This genus is also interesting because it has been recently renamed. It is a member of the family Osmundaceae, which also includes the common Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana, subject of a previous post) and Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis). Until recently, Cinnamon Fern was included in the same genus as these two, but was reclassified into its own genus, Osmundastrum (making it Osmundastrum cinnamomea) after a January paper published in the journal Systematic Botany.

1 comment:

Ezequiel said...

Whoa! great picture! I've never seen before an Osmundastrum cinnamomeum... in fact, I've never seen a living representative of the Osmundaceae... (but I'm doing my PhD with some fossil ones...!)
Great blog! Congrats!