Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ferns 101

When I was growing up I only knew two ferns, the Maidenhair (Adiantum aethiopicum) and Bracken (Pteridium esculentum). Both grew in the sheltered bush on our property and bracken grew in the open paddocks as well. We kids headed for the bracken clumps because we knew that we would find rabbit warrens there and in the pre-mixamytosis days of the 1950s we made a bit of pocket money trapping and ferreting for rabbits.

But that's another story. This blog is about ferns. About my ignorance of same. Over the years I have managed to build up a bit of knowledge about flowering plants, insects and birds. But ferns? No. Nothing. I've been on excursions in the Otways with experts and on field trips with knowledgeable amateurs. I've checked my own references and the internet after taking photos of ferns, in an attempt to identify what I've seen, and failed. Is it really so hard?

I've had a few successes. I now think I recognise the Screw Fern, the Kangaroo Fern, Coral Fern, Mother Shield-Fern, Pacific Azolla, Sickle Fern and Nardoo. But then I lose confidence when I'm faced with a choice: Is it a Mother Shield-fern or a Bristly Shield-fern? Is this a Rough Tree-fern of a Soft Tree-fern?

My knowledge of ferns was put to the test yesterday when we explored some of the delightful tall trees and ferny understories of forested areas near Beech Forest in the Otway Ranges. You go into sensory overload in these forests with the smells, the sounds and beauty in abundance.

Kangaroo Fern Microsorum pustulatum

Turtons Track, Otway Ranges

Aire River

1 comment:

Gouldiae said...

G'day Boobook,
I think I'm in the same category re ferns, as you. I love them, but they are a complete and utter mystery to me. I could smell the wet forest when I opened a couple of your pics.