Thursday, 15 January 2015

Five ferns

The valleys of the Long Mynd or damp and shady places, and damp and shady places are ideal for ferns. These have been my latest challenge, as a group that I have previously not looked at closely.

Ferns on the banks of The Batch

My first fern species of the year was the one that I am quite familiar with. Hart's-tongue Fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium) is a simple fern, consisting of single-bladed fronds with spores underneath. This ubiquitous species is, unsurprisingly, named after its apparent resemblance to the tongue of a deer.

Hart's-tongue Fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium)

Another very common and easy to recognise fern is the Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), which grows in profusion on the banks of The Batch, particularly where the bank has been stripped back and reinforced with wire cages.

Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes)

Also in this part of The Batch is a large group of Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare). This is a trickier species to identify, but the general shape of the fronds is a good guide as it is fairly even along its length before tapering to a tip.

Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare)
The last fern that I have manage to get an identification for is the Hard-fern (Blechnum spicant). A few examples grow from the shaded rocks and grassland on the patch around the north side of Novers Hills. This is a species of slightly acidic conditions, so the soils of the Long Mynd are perfect for it.

Hard-fern (Blechnum spicant)

The last fern I have identified is one that I did not realise was a fern when I first looked at it. It seemed to be a vascular plant growing out of the concrete culvert by the Batch Valley car park. Turning over the 'leaves' however found me looking at a collection of brown spores. This is Wall-rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria), a common fern of rocky places.

Wall-rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria)

There are several more ferns to identify, including a shield fern along the Rough Road and another typical fern found across the patch. More work is needed!

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