Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Fern Season is Here!

Lots of great Ferns to be out looking for

Randy and I have been out looking at ferns in lots of different places, and finding many wonderful ones, some expected and some a surprise at new sites. An exciting time to be out ferning. Even the late emerging Chain Ferns are out now.

Thanks to all who came to the last Fern Walk at 4H Forest in Leverett. I wrote up the list of the 23 ferns we saw and will post it on our website under Downloads/Fern Lists for reference. We saw all 11 of our "most common" as well as numerous others including dissected grape fern, ebony spleenworts and Bootts fern.

The photo here is a comparison of the Rusty Woodsia (Woodsia ilvensis, on left) and Blunt-Lobe Woodsia (Woodsia obtusa). They are growing close to each other on a site at Mt Toby, and during some seasons they can be hard to tell apart. This time of year you can see the rusty fine hairs on the back of the blade and the somewhat rusty stipe on the Rusty Woodsia, compared to the Blunt-Lobe with the green stem and white hairs on the back of the blade. The Blunt-Lobe also grow taller (up to18" and more) and tend to develop a little earlier than the Rusty, which still had a few new little fiddleheads opening in their patch recently. There are some other features which help with identification early and late in the season. They are growing on a rocky open dry slope.

Our next public fern walk is at Fitzerald Lake in Northampton. The walk is free, but the Broad Brook Coalition would like people to register in advance. The information is on their website and listed in our Calendar listing for Saturday June 24th. We will be adding a few more public walks at our favorite places this summer.

Happy Ferning! If you find a fern you are not sure of the name of, you can send a couple photos to us at