Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Weekly Spring Fern Update

Maidenhair Spleenwort Fiddleheads!

For the first time ever I saw fiddleheads on two species of local ferns this April! The Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes) is one of those ferns (Ebony Spleenwort the other). I started studying fiddleheads seriously the Spring of 2020, when Covid changed our lives. I could not find any information in my fern books on how to identify the fiddleheads of our local ferns, so I dove right in. Randy helped me get started and we entered into a new world of discovery. I made a collection of fiddlehead photos in 2020, but noticed last year that I had no photos for these two spleenworts. I did not know if there were fiddleheads, or when they came out. But every Spring is a new chance to explore and find new things! And this April has been wonderful! So I bring you this photo of the Maidenhair Spleenwort fiddleheads, which it took me 3 years to find (or notice)! As you can see, they are smaller than the pinnae or leaflets, and buried in the middle of the plant, so easy to overlook.

In case there are others out there who are interested in learning how to identify the different fiddleheads of our area, I plan on putting together a few pages of sample photos of the fiddleheads we have seen so far this season. I hope to do that this weekend and will post it on our PVFS website under Downloads/Fern Photos Selection. If you go there now, you will see a number of pages I did in 2020 for different local ferns. My new work will just be a sample photo or two of each fiddlehead species we have seen so far. Maybe the 2020 info will be helpful as well.

Just so you have an idea how quickly the plants have responded to the warmth and then the rain, so far I have seen & photographed the following fiddleheads (not in order of appearance): Fragile, Blunt-lobed & Rusty Woodsias, Ebony & Maidenhair Spleenworts, Bulblet, Lady, Silvery Spleenwort, Sensitive, Cinnamon, Ostrich, Maidenhair, Bracken, Hay Scented, Polypody, Christmas, Evergreen and Marginal Wood Ferns, Narrow Beech, Royal, Goldies, Interrupted, and New York. Most of them have come up since the couple rainy days we had this past week. There are still more fiddleheads to find in the next few weeks. And the wildflowers are just as amazing! There will be plenty to look at on our first fern walk on April 30th!

Happy Earth Day! I hope you went out and enjoyed the wonderful outdoors today!