Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mohican's Fern Valley

You are just in time for a rare trip to Mohican's best kept secret: Fern Valley.
In fact, this place was such a great secret, virtually no one knew it was there! Or at least, no one who knew how amazing it is to have this assemblage of ferns all in one location.

Steve McKee, Director of Richland County District is an excellent teacher and especially fond of ferns. So imagine his surprise (and glee) when he was led into a fern filled valley he had never seen before, while giving a program for local camp councilors. Eureka!

Along the trail Steve points out a population of Northern Broad Beech Fern, Phegopteris hexagonoptera. A key characteristic is the last pair of pinnae which are broader and often point downward...

resembling the ears on a dog!

So imagine "Beechly" the fern hound, helping you to sniff out Broad Beech Ferns. Steve gave me the mental imagery and I added the red marker for you!

Brian Gara, another keen fern enthusiast, came with the Mohican Native Plant Society on this trip. Brian has also grown many of these native ferns, so he has some expertise on several levels.

Glade Fern, Diplazium pycnocarpon, a lush fern with long graceful pinnae, is an indicator of an undisturbed habitat-infrequently found- compared to the similar-looking ....

Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides.

The most common evergreen fern is easily adaptable to home gardening.

Christmas Fern and Glade Fern side-by-side comparison
Note the Christmas fern has the extra tab of tissue on the pinna, while the Glade fern pinna is symmetrical. A subtle, but very easy clue to tell these two apart.

I hope this has whetted your appetite for ferns, and maybe even fern gardening. If you are interested in learning more about ferns, consider this your personal invitation from me- to join Greater Mohican Audubon Society at Steve McKee's upcoming workshop Sept. 11, 2011: "Best Fronds Forever." Details on the GMAS website!

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