Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas fern


I saw this lovely Christmas fern yesterday in the woods near Ashley Reservoir (Holyoke, MA). The day was misty and mild, more spring-like than typical of December days. I recognized this distinctive fern by its little leaflets shaped like Christmas stockings all in a row. My mother taught me that identification clue years ago in Danvers, and I've never forgotten it. 

Today I saw many other examples at the Mount Tom State Reservation, and paused along the Bray Lake trail to take this photo of a few Christmas ferns by a small flowing brook: 

The New York Times published a related article online today: The Christmas Fern, a Cold-Weather Frond by David Taft. He writes, "There is little mystery about how the Christmas fern got its name. Its timing was right; it is green when much of the natural world is brown, absent or dormant. There is, however, a more subtle reminder of the holiday season to find among its fronds. Each of the pinnae — the individual leaflets of any fern — is shaped like a little Christmas stocking, and with a bit of imagination, you can picture the little feet marching up the fern’s central stem, or rachis."  
Exactly.  Merry Christmas to all!

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