Brandon, NPC’s summer intern, and I inspected the Joshi and Lyons Farm easements. The trees’ leaves were almost full sized and many of the spring ephemeral wildflowers had already finished blooming. But the ferns were just coming into their own. Ferns are very primitive plants that do not have flowers, but instead bear their fertile spores on modified leaves. We saw a number of different species and almost certainly missed a few more.
Cinnamon fern – was named for its spore bearing fronds which resemble a cinnamon stick in both shape and color.
Interrupted fern – the spores are borne in the middle of the blade – hence the name.
Sensitive fern – this species is extremely sensitive to frost, the fronds are killed by the slightest of autumn’s frost.
New York fern – is evergreen and grows in clumps.
Christmas fern – is also evergreen and grows in clumps; its fronds are frequently used in seasonal decorations.
Hay-scented fern – the crushed fronds smell like new-mown hay; the fronds grow from a spreading dense root mat, forming extensive colonies which inhibit tree reproduction.
Bracken fern – is a plant of dry acidic soils whose fronds tend to be borne horizontally rather than vertically as in most other ferns.