Saturday, August 1, 2009
Huron Mts IV - Dryopteris fragrans
Dryopteris fragrans is one of my favorite ferns, for several reasons. First, it's in the group I study, so I sort of have to like it. But it's also very different from the other Dryopteris species, it's not closely related to anything else on this continent, and it's rather difficult to find, as it grows mostly in very cold climates at higher latitudes, like Alaska and northern Canada (see past posts on D. fragrans here and here for discussions of its occurrence in Wisconsin). Because of this last reason, I've only seen it twice in the wild, in the Wisconsin Dells, and it's a thrilling experience - I've read and thought about it so much that finding it is exhilarating. Imagine my euphoria, then, to paddle out to a thin peninsula in Rush Lake, disembark from our rowboat, climb along the lakeshore below the sandstone cliffs pictured above, and find DOZENS of healthy, robust, beautiful D. fragrans swaying in the breeze from their cliff perches. They are simply beautiful!
Labels: cool ferns, Dryopteris
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cool! Im gonna keep a look-out for them while hiking in the catskills :-)
I live in AK where they are plentiful--and their fiddleheads are just now shooting up. Do you know if they are edible? I have spent quite a bit of time researching this and have yet to find an answer...
I would strongly recommend that you NOT eat D. fragrans fiddleheads. There are only a couple fern species whose fiddleheads are thought to be ok to eat, and really only the Ostrich fern is eaten in the US. Other species are eaten in other regions of the world, but are thought to be linked to things like stomach cancer. D. fragrans has a lot of secondary compounds, which are just the kinds of things you expect from species that are dangerous to eat. Please don't try it. See if you can find some Ostrich ferns instead!
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