Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vancouver and Beyond

The ferns have kept me busy the last few weeks, so it's been a while since my last post. I'll try to make up for that, starting today. I'm back in DC after spending several weeks traveling and enjoying the plants of the Northwest Coast, an area of the US and Canada where I've never been before. I attended the Botanical Society of America's annual conference at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and then spent several days traveling around Washington and Oregon with local fern aficionados.

This post serves as a (very brief) introduction to the types of habitats and plants I saw out there, and I'll follow it up with several entries about specific ferns I encountered.

The pictures above are from a fern foray that took place Saturday, July 27th, to the Lower Seymour Conservation Area and Mount Seymour, north of Vancouver. There are usually several field trips on the weekend preceding the Botany conference each year, and the fern ones are always the most fun (of course). On this trip we visited typical conifer forest at the Conservation area, and as you can see, there were tons of ferns. The ones most prominent in these photos are Athyrium filix-femina (Western Lady Fern) and Blechnum spicant. I'm bad at trees, so I don't know the species that were present, but suffice to say there were lots of them, and they were BIG.

The forest was pretty rich and dense with plant life, including mosses that were draped over many of the branches. Surprisingly, despite the lush coverage of ferns, the fern flora was fairly depauperate (meaning number of species, not abundance of plants). Earlier this summer I was able to locate 15 fern species on just two or three acres at my parents' home, while my list topped out at around 10 species for this incredible forest. It's likely that there just aren't a ton of ferns able to cope with the relatively low water availability imposed by the long winters in this area of the world.

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