Page:Parsons How to Know the Ferns 7th ed.djvu/44

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constantly as you chance upon the little wrinkled crozier-like fronds, whether they are bundled up in wrappings of soft wool or protected by a garment of overlapping scales, or whether, like many of the later arrivals, they come into the world as naked and puny as a human baby.

Once uncurled, the ferns lose quickly this look of infancy, and embody, quite as effectively, even the hardiest and coarsest among them, the slender grace of youth. Early in May we find the Osmundas in this stage of their development. The Royal Fern, smooth and delicate, is now flushing the wet meadows with its tender red. In the open woods and along the roadside the Interrupted and the Cinnamon Ferns wear a green equally delicate. These three plants soon reach maturity and are conspicuous by reason of their unusual size and their flower-like fruit-clusters.

On the rocky banks of the brook, or perhaps among the spreading roots of some forest-tree, the Fragile Bladder Fern unrolls its tremulous little