Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wisconsin Dells

To most people who live in the Midwest, the Wisconsin Dells means one thing: waterparks. This is supposedly the waterpark capital of the world. Others, however, are attracted to the Dells for its stunning scenery and natural beauty. I first visited this area last fall to find Dryopteris fragrans, and I returned a few weeks ago with my labmate Phil to drop in on it again. I wanted to see the plant in a different season, and collect a fertile frond for a friend and colleague who is going to try and grow it for our research projects. The Dells is very rich, and very different from the rest of the state. As I explained in the post linked above, the river channels allow cold air to flow down from farther north, so many plants survive there that otherwise couldn't make it in mid-southern Wisconsin. The river channels, with their sun-exposed, weathered sandstone cliffs, also provide habitat for epipetric, or rock-growing plants. The rocks themselves are quite stunning too:

Here are some of the cool ferns we found growing on the rocks:

Asplenium trichomanes and Gymnocarpium dryopteris

A Woodsia species

A Pellaea species, probably Pellaea glabra

And of course, Dryopteris fragrans

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