How to Know the Ferns (7th ed)/Group V
FERTILE AND STERILE FRONDS LEAF-LIKE AND SIMILAR; SPORANGIA IN LINEAR OR OBLONG FRUIT-DOTS
24. LADY FERN
A wood and roadside fern, growing in all parts of the country and presenting many varying forms. One to three feet high, with tufted, straw-colored, reddish, or brownish stalks.
Fronds.—Broadly lance-shaped, tapering toward the apex, twice-pinnate; pinnce lance-shaped; pinnules oblong-lanceolate, toothed or incised; fruit-dots short, curved; indusium delicate, curved, sometimes shaped like a horseshoe.
The Lady Fern is found in all parts of the country. Sometimes it forms a part of the tangle of wild, graceful things which grow close to the roadside fence. Again, in company with the Silvery Spleenwort, the Evergreen Wood Fern and the Spinulose Shield Fern, forming perhaps a background for the brilliant scarlet clusters of the wild bergamot, it fringes the banks of some amber-colored brook which surprises us with its swift, noiseless flow as we stroll through the woods.The earliest fronds uncurl in May. In June the
a Fruiting pinnuleb Portion of same
plant is very graceful and pleasing. When growing in shaded places it is often conspicuous by reason of its bright pink or reddish stalks, which contrast effectively with the delicate green of the foliage. But in later summer, judging by my own experience, the Lady Fern loses much of its delicacy. Many of its fronds become disfigured and present a rather blotched and coarse appearance.
This seems strange in view of the fact that the plant is called by Lowe, a well-known English writer, the "Queen of Ferns," and that it is one of the few ferns to which we find reference in literature. Scott pays it the compliment, rarely bestowed upon ferns, of mentioning it by name :
"Where the copse wood is the greenest.
Where the fountain glistens sheenest,
Where the morning dew lies longest,
There the Lady Fern grows strongest."
In English works devoted to ferns I find at least two poems, more remarkable for enthusiasm than for poetic inspiration, in its honor. I quote a portion of the one which occurs in Miss Pratt's "Ferns of Great Britain and Their Allies":
"But seek her not in early May,
For a Sibyl then she looks.
With wrinkled fronds that seem to say,
'Shut up are my wizard books!'
Then search for her in the summer woods,
Where rills keep moist the ground,
Where Foxgloves from their spotted hoods.
Shake pilfering insects round;
When up and clambering all about,
The Traveller's Joy flings forth
Its snowy awns, that in and out
Like feathers strew the earth :
Fair are the tufts of meadow-sweet
That haply blossom nigh;
Fair are the whirls of violet
Prunella shows hard by;
But nor by burn in wood, or vale,
Grows anything so fair
As the plumy crest of emerald pale,
That waves in the wind, and soughs in the gale,
Of the Lady Fern, when the sunbeams turn
To gold her delicate hair."
The other, which I give in full, on account of its quaintness, appeared in the Botanical Looker-out of Edwin Lees:
"When in splendor and beauty all nature is crown'd,
The Fern is seen curling half hid in the ground.
But of all the green brackens that rise by the burn,
Commend me alone to the sweet Lady Fern.
"Polypodium indented stands stiff on the rock.
With his sori exposed to the tempest's rough shock;
On the wide, chilly heath Aquilina stands stern.
Not once to be named with the sweet Lady Fern.
"Filix-mas in a circle lifts up his green fronds
And the Heath Fern delights by the bogs and the ponds;
Through their shadowy tufts though with pleasure I turn,
The palm must still rest with the fair Lady Fern.
"By the fountain I see her just spring into sight.
Her texture as frail as though shivering with fright;
To the water she shrinks — I can scarcely discern
In the deep humid shadows the soft Lady Fern.
"Where the water is pouring forever she sits,
And beside her the Ouzel, the Kingfisher flits;
There, supreme in her beauty, beside the full urn,
In the shade of the rock stands the tall Lady Fern.
"Noon burns up the mountain; but here by the fall
The Lady Fern flourishes graceful and tall.
Hours speed as thoughts rise, without any concern,
And float like the spray gliding past the green Fern."
25. SILVERY SPLEENWORT
Asplenium thelypteroides (A. acrostichoides)
Canada to Alabama and westward, in rich woods. One to three feet high.
Fronds. — Lance-shaped, tapering both ways from the middle, once-pinnate; pinnæ linear-lanceolate, deeply cut into obtuse segments; fruit-dots oblong; indusium silvery when young.
a Upper part of fertile frond of Silvery Spleenwort
bPortion of fruiting pinnac Portion of pinna showing double fruit-dots
to the deeply shaded situations which it favors, as in sunny exposures I have noticed an abundance of fertile fronds.
Its color is a dull green, the silvery indusia on the lower surfaces of the pinnæ giving the plant its English title. Although usually its fronds are larger, their outline, tapering as it does both ways from the middle, somewhat suggests that of the New York Fern. It is readily identified, as the oblong or linear fruit-dots at once proclaim it a Spleenwort, and no other member of this tribe has fronds of the same shape.
Although it cannot be classed among the rare ferns, it is absent from many promising localities, and is associated in my mind with especially successful expeditions.
26. RUE SPLEENWORT. WALL RUE
A small rock fern, growing on limestone, Vermont to Michigan and southward. Four to seven inches long, with green, slender, tufted stalks.
Fronds.—Triangular-ovate, smooth, evergreen, twice or thrice-pinnate below; pinnæ cut into stalked pinnules; fruit-dots confluent at maturity, covering nearly the whole lower surface of pinnules; indusium delicate.
As I have already mentioned in my description of the Purple Cliff Brake, on a chance morning call I learned that twenty-five years before the Rue Spleenwort and the Purple Cliff Brake had been found on certain cliffs which overhung some neighboring falls.
On these very cliffs a quarter of a century later we found a few specimens of each plant. The tiny fronds of the Rue Spleenwort grew from small fissures in the cliffs, flattening themselves against their rocky background.
About a month later we returned to the spot for the purpose of securing photographs of the natural gallery where the plants grew. The seamed, overhanging rocks, the neighboring stream plunging nearly two hundred feet to the ravine below, the bold opposite cliffs showing here and there through their cloak of trees, and above and beyond the smiling upland pastures, the wood-crowned hills, and the haze-softened valley, had left a picture in the mind that we hoped to reproduce, however inadequately, by means of the camera.
This morning we had approached the cliffs from an opposite direction. In climbing a gradual ascent from the bed of the stream, we found a plant of the Rue Spleenwort which was more vigorous and thrifty than any we had previously seen. In the single tuft, about as large as the palm of one's hand, we counted forty-five green fronds. Their lower surfaces, in many cases, were covered with confluent fruit-dots. The plant had much the effect of a rather small specimen of the Mountain Spleenwort. The short, broad fronds were somewhat leathery, with only a few pinnæ. Considering its lack of size, the little cluster, springing from the bare rock, made so definite and interesting a picture that we tried to photograph it as it grew. But after some time spent in striving to secure a foothold for the tripod, and at the same time for the photographer, we gave up the attempt as hopeless.
In England the Rue Spleenwort is found growing on old walls, specially on their northern sides, also on church-towers, bridges, and ruins. It is said to be difficult to cultivate.Formerly this fern yielded a decoction which was supposed to be beneficial in attacks of pleurisy and of jaundice.
27. MOUNTAIN SPLEENWORT
Connecticut and New York to Georgia. A small rock fern from two to eight inches long, with stalks brown at base.
Fronds.—Ovate-lanceolate in outline, somewhat leathery, cut into oblong pinnæ, the lower ones of which are cut again into more or less oblong, toothed divisions, the upper ones less and less divided; rachis green, broad, flat; fruit-dots linear, short; indusium thin, hidden at length by the sporangia, which mature in July.
a A fertile frondb A pinna of fertile frond
Mountain SpleenwortApparently only the plants that grow under specially favorable conditions are able to develop fronds that attain a length of five or six inches. Only in what must have been almost constant shadow, under the shelving rocks, directly above the lake and refreshed always by its moisture, did I find these really
"In the shaded crevices of a cliff."
attractive, thrifty-looking plants. The specimens, which were located at some distance from the lake, growing in one instance on top of a mountain, again in the shaded crevices of a cliff, were tiny, indefinite-looking plants with nothing to recommend them to any eyes save those of the fern collector. In every instance they grew from fissures in the rocks, rooting apparently in a mere pinch of earth, yet with such tenacity that it would have been very difficult to extract a plant unharmed. In almost every case they were shielded much of the time from exposure to the sun.
The large plants in the immediate vicinity of the lake were noticeably bluish-green in color.It is to be hoped that the few known haunts of the Mountain Spleenwort will be respected in order that this rare little plant may be preserved.
28. EBONY SPLEENWORT
Asplenium ebeneum (A. platyneuron)
Maine to Florida and westward, on rocks and hill-sides. Nine to eighteen inches high, with blackish and shining stalks.
Fronds.—Upright, narrowly oblanceolate, fertile fronds much the taller, once-pinnate; pinnæ usually alternate, oblong, finely toothed, the base auricled on the upper or on both sides; fruit-dots many, oblong, nearer midvein than margin; indusium silvery till maturity.
The slender fronds of the Ebony Spleenwort hold themselves with a sort of rigid grace which suggests a combination of delicacy and endurance.
Portion of fertile frond
Fertile pinna magnified while last year along the roadsides of Long Island I found its black-stemmed fronds standing erect and slim in crowded ranks under groups of red cedars. In other years it has abounded in localities of a different character, sometimes following its little relative, the Maiden-hair Spleenwort, into moist ravines or along
the shelves of shaded rocks, again climbing exposed hill-sides, where its fresh beauty is always a surprise.
The fronds of the Ebony Spleenwort usually face the sun, even if so doing necessitates the twisting of its stalk.
29. MAIDENHAIR SPLEENWORT
Almost throughout North America. A small rock fern, four to twelve inches long, with purplish - brown and shining, thread-like stalks.
Fronds.—Linear in outline, somewhat rigid, once-pinnate; pinnæ roundish or oval, unequal-sided, attached to rachis by a narrow point, entire or toothed; fruit-dots short, oblong, narrowed at the ends, three to six on each side of the midrib; sporangia dark-brown when ripe; indusium delicate.
Fertile pinnæ In childhood the delicate little fronds and dark, glistening, thread-like stalks of the Maidenhair Spleenwort seemed to me a token of the mysterious, ecstatic presence of the deeper woods, of woods where dark hemlocks arched across the rock-broken stream, where the spongy ground was carpeted with low, nameless plants with white-veined or shining leaves and coral-like berries, where precious red-cupped mosses covered the fallen tree-trunks and strange birds sang unknown songs.
Perhaps because in those days it was a rare plant to be met with on rare occasions, in a spirit of breathless exultation, I almost begrudge finding it now on shaded cliffs close to the highway.Certainly it seems lovelier when it holds itself somewhat aloof from the beaten paths. One of its favorite haunts is a mossy cliff which forms part of a ravine of singular beauty. Along the base of this cliff foams a rushing stream on its way to the valley. Overhead stretch branches of hemlock, cedar, and basswood. On the broader shelves the mountain maple, the silver birch, and the hobble-bush secure a precarious foothold. Below rare sunbeams bring out rich patches of color on the smooth, muscular trunks of the beeches. Close to the water, perhaps, wheel a pair of spotted sand-pipers, now lighting on the rocks in order to secure some insect, now tilting backward and forward with the comical motion peculiar to them, gliding swiftly along the pebbly shore till their brown and gray and white coats are lost in the brown and gray and white of shore, rock, and water. In such a retreat as this ravine the Maidenhair Spleenwort seems peculiarly at home.Its tufted fronds have a fresh greenness that is a delight to the eye as they spring from little pockets or crannies too shallow, we would suppose, for the necessary moisture and nourishment. Its near companions are the Walking Fern, whose tapering, leaf-like, blue-green fronds leap along the shelving ledge above, and the Bulblet Bladder Fern, which seems to gush from every crevice of the cliff.
30. GREEN SPLEENWORT
Northern New England, west and northward, on shaded rocks. A few inches to nearly a foot long, with tufted stalks, brownish below, green above.
Fronds.—Linear-lanceolate, once-pinnate, pale green; pinnæ ovate, toothed, midvein indistinct and forking; fruit-dots oblong; indusium straight or curved.
its most distinguishing feature is its stalk, which, though brown below, becomes green above, while that of its little relative is dark and shining throughout. Its discovery on Mt. Mansfield, Vt., by Mr. Pringle gave it a place in the flora of the United States,
Fertile pinnæ as is shown in the following passage from Mr Pringle's address before the Vermont Botanical Club:
"On this first visit to Mt. Mansfield my work was restricted to the crest of the great mountain. About the cool and shaded cliffs in front of the Summit House were then first brought to my view Aspidium fragrans . . . and Asplenium viride, . . . for I was still on my fern hunt. The finding of the former added a species to the Vermont catalogue; the latter was an addition to the flora of the United States. Such little discoveries gave joy to the young collector."
31. SCOTT'S SPLEENWORT
Connecticut to the Mississippi and southward to Alabama, on limestone. Four to twelve inches long, with blackish and shining stalks.
Fronds.—Lanceolate, tapering to a long, narrow apex, generally pinnate below, pinnatifid above; fruit-dots straight or slightly curved; indusium narrow.
The known stations of this curious little plant are usually in the immediate neighborhood of the Walking Leaf and the Ebony Spleenwort, of which ferns it is supposed to be a hybrid. The long, narrow apex occasionally forming a new plant, and the irregular fruit-dots remind one of the Walking Leaf, while the lustrous black stalk, the free veins, and the pinnate portions of the fronds suggest the Ebony Spleenwort.
Scott's Spleenwort matures in August. It is rare and local, except in Alabama. The fact, however, that it has been discovered in widely distant localities east of the Mississippi should lend excitement to fern expeditions in any of our limestone neighborhoods where we see its chosen associates, the Walking Leaf and the Ebony Spleenwort. To find a new station for this interesting little fern, even if it consisted of one or two plants only, as is said to have been the case at Canaan, Conn., would well repay the fatigue of the longest tramp.
32. PINNATIFID SPLEENWORT
New Jersey and Pennsylvania to Illinois, and southward to Alabama and Arkansas, on rocks. Four to fourteen inches long, with polished stalks, blackish below, green above, when young somewhat chaffy below.
Fronds.—Broadly lance-shaped, tapering to a long, slender point, pinnatifid or pinnate below; pinnæ rounded or the lowest tapering to a point, fruit-dots straight or somewhat curved; indusium straight or curved.
This plant resembles the Walking Leaf to such an extent that formerly it was not considered a separate species. The long, slender apex of its frond, which, it is said, sometimes takes root, as in the Walking Leaf, gave ground for its confusion with that fern. But the tapering apex of the frond of the Pinnatifid Spleenwort is not so long and the veins of the frond are free.
The Pinnatifid Spleenwort grows on rocks. Its usual companions are the Mountain Spleenwort and the Maidenhair Spleenwort. Williamson tells us that, though it is quite common in Kentucky, he has never found a frond which rooted at the apex. Eaton, however, speaks of "one or two instances of a slight enlargement of the apex, as if there were an attempt to form a proliferous bud."
33. BRADLEY'S SPLEENWORT
New York to Georgia and Alabama, westward to Arkansas, on rocks preferring limestone. Six to ten inches long, with slender, chestnut-brown stalks.
Fronds.— Oblong-lanceolate or oblong, tapering to a point, pinnate; pinnæ oblong-ovate, lobed or pinnatifid; fruit-dots short, near the midrib; indusium delicate.
a Fertile pinna
34. WALKING FERN, WALKING LEAF
Canada to North Carolina and westward, on shaded rocks, preferring limestone. Four to eighteen inches long, with light-green stalks.
Fronds.—Simple, lanceolate, long-tapering toward the apex, usually heart-shaped at base, the apex often rooting and forming a new plant; fruit-dots oblong or linear, irregularly scattered on the lower surface of the frond; indusium thin.
To its unusual and suggestive title this plant undoubtedly owes much of the interest which it seems to arouse in the minds of those who do not profess to be fern-lovers. A friend tells me that as a child, eagerly on the lookout for this apparently active little plant, he was so much influenced by its title that he thought it might be advantageous to secure a butterfly-net as an aid in its capture. I find that older people as well are tempted to unwonted energy if promised a glimpse of the Walking Fern. Then too, the scarcity of the plant in many localities, or, indeed, its entire absence from certain parts of the country, gives it a reputation for rarity which is one of the most certain roads to fame.
For many years I was unable to track it to any of its haunts. During a summer spent in Rensselaer County, N. Y., the Walking Leaf was the object of various expeditions. I recall one drive of twenty-five miles devoted to hunting up a rumored station.At the end of the day, which turned out cold and rainy, and fruitless so far as its special object was concerned, I felt inclined to believe that the plant had justified its title and had walked out of the neighborhood. Yet, after all, no such expedition, even with wind and weather against one, as in this case, is really fruitless. The sharp watch along the roadside, the many little expeditions into inviting pastures, up promising cliffs, over moss-grown bowlders, down to the rocky border of the brook, are sure to result in discoveries of value or in moments of delight. A flower yet unnamed, a butterfly beautiful as a gem, an unfamiliar bird-song traced to its source, a new, suggestive outlook over the well-known valley, and, later, "a sleep pleasant with all the influences of long hours in the open air"—any or all of these results may be ours, and go to make the day count.
Finally, one September afternoon, shortly before leaving the neighborhood, we resolved upon a last search, in quite a new direction. Several miles from home, at a fork in the road, standing in a partially wooded pasture, we noticed just such a large, shaded rock, with mossy ledges, as had filled us with vain hopes many times. J. suggested a closer examination, which I discouraged, remembering previous disappointments. But something in the look of the great bowlder provoked his curiosity, so over the fence and up the ledges he scrambled. Almost his first resting-place was a projecting shelf which was carpeted with a mat of bluish-green foliage. It needed only a moment's investigation to identify the leathery, tapering fronds of the Walking Fern. No one who has not spent hours in some such search as this can sympathize with the delight of those moments. We fairly gloated over the quaint little plants, following with our fingers the slender tips of the fronds till they rooted in the moss, starting another generation on its life journey, and earning for itself the title of Walking Leaf or Walking Fern.
Although since then I have found the Walking Leaf frequently, and in great abundance, I do not remember ever to have seen it make so fine a display. The plants were unusually large and vigorous, and the aspect of the matted tufts was uncommonly luxuriant. To be sure, some allowance must be made for the glamour of a first meeting.The Walking Leaf grows usually on limestone
"We fairly gloated over the quaint little plants."
rocks, though it has been found on sandstone, shale, and conglomerate as well. I have also seen it on the stumps of decaying trees near limestone cliffs in Central New York, where it is a common plant, creeping along the shaded, mossy ledges above star-like tufts of the Maidenhair Spleenwort and fragile clusters of the Slender Cliff Brake, venturing to the brook's edge with sprays of the Bulblet Bladder Fern, and climbing the turreted summits of the hills close to the Purple Cliff Brake.
Although without the grace of the Maidenhair, the delicacy of certain of the Spleenworts, or the stately beauty of the Shield Ferns, the oddity and sturdiness of this little plant are bound to make it a favorite everywhere.
Occasionally a plant is found which will keep up its connection with two or three generations; that is, a frond will root at the apex, forming a new plant (the second generation). This will also send out a rooting frond which gives birth to a new plant (the third generation) before the two first fronds have decayed at their tips so as to sever the connection.At times forking fronds are found, these forks also rooting occasionally at their tips.
35. HART'S TONGUE
Scolopendrium vulgare (S. scolofendrium)
Shaded ravines under limestone cliffs in Central New York and near South Pittsburg, Tenn. A few inches to nearly two feet long, with stalks which are chaffy below and sometimes to the base of the leaf.
Fronds.—Narrowly oblong, undivided, from a somewhat heart-shaped base, bright-green; fruit-dots linear, elongated, a row on either side of the midrib and at right angles to it; indusium appearing to be double.
When Gray describes a fern as "very rare" and Dr. Britton limits it to two small stations in neighboring counties in the whole northern United States, the fern lover looks forward with a sense of eager anticipation to seeing it for the first time.
During a week spent at Cazenovia, N. Y., a few years ago, I learned that the rare Hart's Tongue grew at Chittenango Falls, only four miles away. But my time was limited, and on a single brief visit to the picturesque spot where the broad Chittenango stream dashes over cliffs one hundred and fifty feet high, losing itself in the wild, wooded glen below on its journey to the distant valley, I did little more than revel in the beauty of the foaming mass which for many days "haunted me like a passion." I saw no signs of the plant which has done almost as much as "the sounding cataract" to make the spot famous.
The combined recollection of the beautiful falls and the for me undiscovered fern, joined to the fact that Madison and the adjoining Onondaga County are favorite hunting grounds for the fern lover on account of the many species which they harbor, drew us to Cazenovia for the summer two years later.
Guided by the explicit directions of Mr. J. H. Ten Eyck Burr, a fern enthusiast who is always ready to share with others, of whose good faith he is assured, his enjoyment of the hiding-places of his favorites, we found at last the Hart's Tongue in its own home.
If Mr. Burr's kindness in sending me some fine pressed specimens, and the illustrations I had seen in various books, had not already made me familiar with the general look of the plant, the long, undivided, tongue-like fronds, so different from one's preconceived notion of a fern, would have been a great surprise. Even now, although I have visited many times its hidden retreats, and have noted with delight every detail of its glossy, vigorous growth, it seems to me always as rare and unusual as it did the first day I found it.
At Chittenango Falls the Hart's Tongue grows a few yards from the base of bold, overhanging limestone cliffs, the tops of which are fringed by pendent roots of the red cedar. Nearly always it is caught beneath moss-grown fragments of the fallen limestone, the bright-green, undulating, glossy leaves either standing almost erect (curving outward slightly above) or else falling over toward the slope of the land so as to present a nearly prostrate appearance. At times these fronds are very numerous, as many as fifty to a plant, forming great clumps of foliage. Again we find a plant with only half a dozen or even fewer green fronds. At maturity the linear, bright-brown fruit-dots, a row on either side the midrib, are conspicuous on the lower surfaces of the fronds.
This haunt of the Hart's Tongue is shaded by a growth of tall basswoods and maples, of sturdy oaks and hemlocks. The neighboring cliffs are draped with the slender fronds of the Bulblet Bladder Fern. On every side rise the tall crowns of the omnipresent Evergreen Wood Fern. Lower down, close to the rushing stream which we see mistily through the green branches, its roar always in our ears, grow the Walking Leaf and the Maidenhair. The little Polypody climbs over the rocks and perches contentedly on the spreading roots of trees, while a few fragile plants of the Slender Cliff Brake, something of a rarity in these parts, are fastened to the mossy ledges.
The other published northern station of the Hart's Tongue is at Jamesville, some fifteen miles from Chittenango Falls, near a small sheet of water known commonly as Green Pond, christened botanically Scolopendrium Lake. Here also it grows among the talus at the foot of limestone cliffs. The plants which I found in this locality were less luxuriant than those at Chittenango Falls. They grow in more exposed, less shaded spots.
Scolopendrium Lake has become somewhat famous in the world of fern students by reason of Mr. Underwood's claim that in its immediate vicinity, within a radius of fifty rods from the water's edge (the lake being a mere pond), grow twenty-seven different kinds of ferns, while within a circle whose diameter is not over three miles thirty-four species have been found. During this one day we gave to the neighborhood, we could not hope to find so great a number, the result, perhaps, of many days' investigation, and were forced to content ourselves with the twenty-one species we did find. In his list Mr. Underwood marks the Purple Cliff Brake as found but once, so I judge he did not discover the station on the turreted cliffs close by where it grows in extravagant profusion, producing fronds not only much longer and finer than I had seen elsewhere, but superior to those pictured in the illustrated books.
During the same summer, on an expedition to Perryville Falls, which we had planned for the express purpose of finding the Rue Spleenwort and the Purple Cliff Brake, a new station was discovered for the Hart's Tongue. To Miss Murray Ledyard, of Cazenovia, belongs the honor of finding the first plants in this locality. We had been successful in the original object of our journey, and had crossed the stream in order to examine the opposite cliffs. J. and I, curious to study the wet wall of rock close to the sheer white veil of water, which fell more than one hundred feet, finally secured an unsubstantial foothold among graceful tufts of the greenish, lily-like flowers, which ought to receive a more homely and appropriate title than Zygadenus elegans. Having satisfied ourselves that the mossy crevices harbored no plants of the Slender Cliff Brake, now the immediate object of our search, we followed the natural path beneath the overhanging rock and above the sheer descent to the ravine, examining the cliffs as we cautiously picked our way. Miss Ledyard had remained below, and suddenly we heard her give a triumphant shout, followed by the joyful announcement that she had found the Hart's Tongue. The station being previously quite unknown, this was a most interesting discovery. On entering the ravine we had discussed its possibility, but I had fancied that any hope of it would be unfounded, as I supposed the ground had been thoroughly canvassed by the many botanists who had visited the neighborhood.
The plants were still young, but large and vigorous, growing in a partial opening among the basswoods, maples, and beeches, on a steep slope covered with fragments of limestone, some thirty or forty feet from the base of the cliffs. We must have found from twenty to thirty plants within a radius of as many feet.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, the discovery found its way to the columns of the local paper, and on our return to the station, some weeks later our eager expectation of seeing the young plants in the splendor of maturity was crushed by finding that the spot had been ruthlessly invaded and a number of the finest plants had disappeared. Before long it will be necessary for botanists to form a secret society, with vows of silence as to fern localities and some sort of lynch law for the punishment of vandals.
This fern, so rare with us, is a common plant in Europe, its fronds attaining at times a length of two or three feet. In Ireland and the Channel Islands it is especially abundant. In Devonshire, England, it is described as growing "on the tops and at the sides of walls; hanging from old ruins... dropping down its long, green fronds into the cool and limpid water of roadside wells hewn out of the rock; often exposed to the full blaze of the sun, but always in such cases dwindled down to a tiny size" ("The Fern Paradise").
The Hart's Tongue has been known as the Caterpillar Fern and the Seaweed Fern.
36. VIRGINIA CHAIN FERN
Swampy places, often in deep water, from Maine to Florida. Two to more than three feet high.
Fronds.—Once-pinnate; pinnæ pinnatifid, with oblong segments; fruit-dots oblong, in chain-like rows along the midrib both of the pinnæ and of the lobes, confluent when ripe; indusium fixed by its outer margin, opening on the side next the midrib.
UPPER PART OF FROND OF VIRGINIA CHAIN FERN
|a Portion of fertile pinna||b Tip of fertile pinna|
In the low, damp ground near the coast one may expect to find this fern; its haunts, where the narrow path winds between tall masses of sweet-pepper bush and wet meadows where pogonia and calopogon delight us in July, and the white-fringed orchids may be found in later summer, are among the most beautiful of the many beautiful kinds of country that the fern and flower lover knows, to which his feet stray inevitably in the season of green things, and which are the solace of his "inward eye" when that season is past.