Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Late Season Ferning

Not too late to find some different ferns

Hello all,

Randy & I were out looking for grape ferns at old cemeteries last Friday, and happened upon a really cool waterfall rock face in Montague. While searching for some spleenworts there, we found lots of patches of this unexpected fern - Narrow Beech Fern (Phegopteris connectilis), late season. While we usually see them in moist woods and along stream banks, they can also be found in rocky places. Steve Chaddee in his book "Northeast Ferns" mentions they are sometimes found "on cliffs and near waterfalls", a perfect description of this spot. If you are not sure what a good specimen of Narrow Beech Fern looks like, check out pg 312 in his book. I wish I could attach more than one photo, so you could see the beautful waterfall very close by.

I joke with Randy and friends that this time of year I am part of the "Dead Fern Society", since I spend time trying to identify the "dead" seasonal ferns. It is getting harder now in December, and when snow comes that will probably end the season. But besides the Narrow Beech Fern still being present and identifiable in its withered form, you can also learn to identify Hay-scented, Royal, Sensitive and Ostrich (by their fertile fronds still standing), New York, and sometimes Cinnamon. I will be highlighting the evergreen and semi-evergreen ferns in the next several news articles.

There is always a reason to explore outdoors!