Fungi and Ferns
The naked winter forest in North America provides an opportunity to find cocoons of overwintering moth larvae, dried wasp galls and fungi that are often overlooked by the average hiker. I love spending the winter in the woodlands to find these organisms. During a recent walk in the Maryland woods, I came across a fungus […]
It is almost impossible to see this fern unless you get on your hands and knees and look for it in peat bogs, sphagnum hummocks and wet interdunal swales. That is because this fern is tiny. It grows only to a height of three to four inches. Additionally, it does not look like your […]
One summer day, when I was walking along a wetland trail in New York, I was about to cross a small spring fed brook, when I happened across a muskrat. I stopped dead in my tracks to observe it without frightening the muskrat away. It walked up to a four-foot tall royal fern and proceeded […]
Your sense of smell can be helpful in identifying plant species. Wintergreen plants smell just like wintergreen life savers. Many of the mint species have minty odors and garlic mustard, a weedy herb, smells like garlic. The hay-scented fern has a distinctive aroma of freshly cut hay when crushed or bruised. It is an intricately […]
This fern grows on every continent except for Antarctica. It favors dry acidic poor soils. I have seen this fern in oak woodlands where scarlet, white and black oaks dominate a landscape with an understory of low-bush blueberries and huckleberries. The bracken fern also grows in disturbed areas where it appears to be weedy. Its […]
An intermediate sized fern of the eastern U.S., the marsh fern prefers the wet soils of freshwater wetlands. Fern leaves are called fronds. The shape of the frond and how it is divided helps to identify it. Marsh fern has a sterile frond (a leaf without spores) with many leaflets that are also divided. Marsh […]
Curious? You are not going to hurt the feelings of this fern. It is a fern sensitive to cold weather and the fall frosts. Like many ferns, it grows in freshwater wetlands and moist woodlands in the eastern half of the U.S.