Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fern time

In November after the leaves have fallen and before the first hard frost have bitten, the ferns in our local woodlands stand out more than usual.  The picture below shows and extensive 'mini-forest' mainly of male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) and broad buckler fern (Dryopteris dilatata).

Not far away there is an old brick pit full of ferns of different species including some very large examples of the male fern complex which I think are referable to Dryopteris x complexa a hybrid between the scaly male fern (Dryopteris affinis) and the common male fern (D. filix-mas).  This is a very complex group that seems to be changing rapidly in evolutionary terms with much crossing and back crossing.  The hybrid male fern is, however, most easily recognised by its large size (the plant in the first picture below has fronds longer than I am tall),  Sometimes several plants form a group as in the second picture below.  These examples are also growing in the right sort of habitat.

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