Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rattlesnake Fern

Rattlesnake Fern under the Tulip Poplar
This delicate little fella popped up (or we just noticed it) this week in several places, most noticably under the old, large tulip, or yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) in the front yard.  The leaf pattern and the spores on what looked to be a flower stem, suggested a fern of some kind.

I googled around a bit, using "yellow spores" and "fall" or "autumn" ferns in the searches without much luck.  I then tried the scientific key approach using this site.  Again, with no success.  Getting stubborn, I tried the brute force method, clicking on each of the links in the chart and just looking at the pictures.  Nothing.  However, in the process of looking at and rejecting the "Northern Adder's-tongue" fern during the brute force method, I noticed this phrase:
Northern adder's-tongue doesn't look much like a fern, as it has a single, oval sterile frond, and a single fertile frond that looks like a double row of beads on a stalk.
So, back to Google using "single fertile frond" as part of the criteria, and there it was: Botrychium virginianum, or Rattlesnake Fern, or Virginia Grape Fern. 
A Transplant to the Shade Garden

Apparently, most of the species in the genus Botrychium are rare or endangered, and this is the only one that is still quite common. Common or not, I love it, and moved one to the shade garden. I hope it takes.

Another Specimen Without a Fertile Frond

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