Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Fall Fern Season!

Spinulose Wood Ferns fading

It is getting to be more of a challenge to continue to find all the different ferns we know are at our favorite sites. Today Randy and I found 24 different species of ferns at North Mountain Rd, but it took more searching than in the summer. The Wood Ferns (Dryopteris genus) were important to our success, providing us with 6 species: Evergreen, Marginal, Crested, Clinton's, Bootts & Spinulose (Dryopteris carthusiana). Spinulose Wood Fern was the last we found in a wetland on the way out. Unlike the rest of the wood ferns listed above, they are not evergreen and are now fading away.

Randy took this photo a few days ago in a different wetland that had a lot of Spinulose Wood Ferns, which is not all that common. They were a little more protected by the tree canopy, so still mostly green, but fading. We thought this was a good photo showing an important diagnostic characteristic for Spinulose Wood Fern, the longer lowest and innermost pinnules on the lowest pinnae. Mountain Wood Fern has this as well, but the pinnules above the lowest innermost pinnules are offset, and the frond as a whole is much larger and broader.

Pretty soon I will be back into winter ferns & the Dead Fern Society. Fortunately the Dissected Grape Ferns are still vibrant, as well as the other evergreen or "wintergreen" ferns in our area, including most of the local Wood Ferns, Ebony & Maidenhair Spleenworts, Walking Ferns, Climbing Ferns & maybe Blunt-lobed Woodsias. There are always some ferns to find and identify throughout the year.

Enjoy the Fall and keep ferning! We are planning on having our usual Tree & Fern Hike to the Mt Toby Caves the Friday after Thanksgiving, and hope to see some of you then.