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!