Pioneer Valley Fern Society

Fiddleheads 2024

Narrow-Leaved Glade Fern

I don't seem to have done many fiddlehead articles this year, but the fiddlehead season is not over yet. Just this past week Randy and I visited some of our favorite sites and found a number of ferns still producing fiddleheads, as well as others which are just emerging now. The photo shows a recent fiddlehead of the Narrow-Leaved Glade Fern (Homalosorus pycnocarpos). It may also be called Narrow-leaved Spleenwort , Silvery Glade Fern,or just Glade Fern. Not only does the common name vary, but over time this fern was placed in different genera, including Athyrium, Diplazium, Asplenium, and now Homalosorus. This is the newest name I am aware of, since 2016.

It is not a fern we commonly see around here, and it is distinctive. The fern is large when full grown, with fronds up to 3 feet in length and 10 inches wide. The blade has 20-40 pairs of narrow pinnae, arranged alternately on the stem, with small pinnae at the top and bottom. The leaflets or pinnae are similar to the new ones coming out on the stem of this fiddlehead, but they grow much longer. The sori are arranged on the back of the fertile fronds in a herringbone pattern. They generally grow in moist rich woods.

I will try to get some more fiddlehead photos out this week. The heat and rain will certainly accelerate the growth of our ferns!