Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Late Winter Surprise!

New Dissected Grape Fern Emerging Already!

The photo you see here is one I took yesterday, when I found this new Dissected Grape Fern (Sceptridium dissectum) emerging from the ground in Sunderland MA. This is about 5 months early, by my photo records! The sterile blades of the Dissected Grape Ferns overwinter, and then fade away before or as the new sterile and fertile blades appear in July around here. If you want to see a photo of an emerging grape fern I posted on July 12, 2022, scroll down these news articles to one with the title "New Grape Ferns are Here!".

For me and Randy, this is shocking. This is probably just one very brave grape fern that decided to get ahead of the pack by emerging during the sunny warm weather we had last week. But we have seen some other ferns on an unusually early schedule as well. Randy stopped last week at our Fragile Fern early fiddlehead site in Amherst, to see if he could see the start of any new development there. We have been finding them a little bit earlier each year, but generally the fiddleheads start emerging the last week of March. Much to his surprise, he found a few of the brown shriveled up plants with a full new green frond! We looked for and found the same thing at another Fragile Fern site we visited this week in Greenfield!

So it seems this might be an unusual year for ferns and other plants, if these unusual sightings continue. I am not a climate scientist, but these could be new signs of climate change in our local area. We would love to hear from you folks if you start to see ferns (or other plants) emerging much earlier than usual this year. Who knows what 2024 will bring?