Fern Walk: Walking Fern

Walking Fern

Lesson learned: don’t botanize with a five month old puppy.

If I slow down, if I approach the ground, if I seem the least bit interested in anything outdoors–she’s on top of me. Worse, she’s immediately carrying off the object of interest–wildflower, fungus, rock or spider–as if it were a reward I had intended, by my scratching around or getting out the camera–for her to have.

So this is not a great image from up the gorge late in the afternoon when the light was fading. But maybe this fern is new to some of you: Walking Fern. The glade near the back of our land is a great place for a fern walk. I’ll have more fern and moss images I’m thinking in the next few weeks, though bloodroot and hepatica are coming up NOW!

I haven’t checked the latest taxonomy, but when I learned it, it was an Asplenium species, and interesting 1) because it will “walk” by rooting at the tips of the smooth-margined frond, and 2) it will hybridize with several other members of that species in a complicated “triangle” in which the hybrids will hybridize with each other .

But I lapse into botano-gibberish. Have a great weekend, y’all, and see some of you at the Country Store Saturday night where the topic will be our connection (or lack thereof) to nature and the showing of “Mother Nature’s Child.”

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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