Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Christmas Fern Count 2022

Chard Pond, Sunderland MA

I am sure many of you know about the Christmas Bird Count. Randy & I decided to do a variation on that, and conducted our own Christmas Fern Count at Chard Pond in Sunderland on Christmas Day. It was pretty cold, but not too much snow, so conditions were good for finding many ferns, including ones we might call "dead ferns" based on the remaining brown, withered fronds. We positively identified 20 native ferns, 8 of which are evergreen or over-wintering. There is a full list in the Downloads folder on our website. The 8 local evergreen/over-wintering ferns are Christmas, Evergreen & Marginal Wood Ferns, Maidenhair & Ebony Spleenworts, Walking Fern, Cut-leaf Grape Fern and Common Polypody. I always love to see them all!

It was too cold to spend time looking for a couple more ferns that are usually there. We were able to find this many ferns in December because we know this area very well, know where to look for some of the less common ferns, and we have been brushing up on our winter fern ID skills. It is a challenge, but fun. If any of you would like to come out with us on a winter fern walk at one of our better spots, let us know. This might be a special Dead Fern Society function!

A nice surprise for us was finding a clump of Christmas fern that was unusual. The leaflets (pinnae) were all incised so that they looked like they were twice cut. That fern is shown in the photo. I wanted to show the whole fern, so you can see it was not just one odd frond. There is a normal Christmas fern frond in the lower right corner of the photo, for comparison. It will help to zoom in on the photo a bit. We had not seen one like it before.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

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