Monday, 16 February 2015

Two common ferns

Seven different ferns have been recorded at Filnore Woods:  Harts Tongue Fern, Male Fern, Lady Fern, Broad Buckler Fern, Soft Shield Fern, Polypody and Bracken.
The two in the photo below still have green fronds in the winter and are easily confused.

So here is how to distinguish them. 
Each has a frond divided into several pinnae, like leaves, and each pinna is divided into little leaflets called pinnules.
On the left we have the Soft Shield fern.  Each little pinnule ends with a little pointed hair, and some of the pinnules are shaped like a tiny mitten with a thumb.
Whereas the Male fern pinnules on the right are a more simple, rounded shape and do not have the hairs on the end.

To remember which is which think of a mitten being soft and a shield against the cold.  So, soft shield fern.
I asked the people on one of my courses once, "How can I help you to remember the the male fern pinnules are a simple shape?"  One female member immediately replied, "How to connect 'male' and 'simple'?  Easy!"
Hopefully you're feeling more confident now about dsitinguishing these two ferns. 
More about ferns later in the year, or you can check back to my 'fern learning' postings in Jan and Feb 2012. 

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