Page:Parsons How to Know the Ferns 7th ed.djvu/43

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It is in early spring that one likes to take up for the first time an out-door study. But if you begin your search for ferns in March, when the woods are yielding a few timid blossoms, and the air, still pungent with a suggestion of winter, vibrates to the lisping notes of newly arrived birds, you will hardly be rewarded by finding any but the evergreen species, and even these are not likely to be especially conspicuous at this season.

Usually it is the latter part of April before the pioneers among the ferns, the great Osmundas, push up the big, woolly croziers, or fiddleheads, which will soon develop into the most luxuriant and tropical-looking plants of our low wet woods and roadsides.

At about the same time, down among last year's Christmas Ferns, you find the rolled-up fronds of this year, covered with brown or whitish scales. And now every day for many weeks will appear fresh batches of young ferns. Someone has said that there is nothing more aggressively new-born than a young fern, and this thought will recur