Fern Glade | Forest Ecology

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I was hoping to get back to the nearby meadow where Christmas Fern , Cinnamon Fern, Interrupted Fern (pictured here), Northern Maidenhair Fern and Wood Fern all grow together. But it’s blustery, and for such tall, frail plants, they will be all in a whirl of motion. So perhaps I’ve done all I’m going to do pteridologically for this season. Or maybe not.

I’ll try in the next few days to go back and do some ‘splainin’ about the odd fern structure in this recent post.

While Ferns and their kin are a relatively minor part of the vegetation in most of the southern Appalachians, there are glades where fernsare the dominant understory. And on our one visit to Vancouver a few years ago in May, fernsstood leaf to blade and six feet tall, acre after acre.

And of course if you go back in history far enough, the fernsand their kin were the dominant land plants, some sixty feet tall and a foot or more in diameter!

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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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  1. Duh. Yup. We have ferns taller than 4 feet in these parts, but everything in the Pacific Northwest looks like the rain is 50% MiracleGrow. I’ve never seen anything like the size there for familiar plants that also grow here (like rhododendrons where single flowers were the size of flower clusters in VA.

  2. Yeah, I was glad to be with you on that visit to the ‘Couve, pop, seeing you so excited about the flora and fauna. You know how it goes — live in a place even for a while, and you start to “claim” it proudly as your own — as if somehow the size of those ferns was my own achievement. So on that note, I’m flattered you liked the ferns and flowers…