Monday, February 13, 2012

5 ferns in 5 minutes, more or less

Another report from Saturday's Bear Creek expedition.  If we had walked up this path without distractions, we would have passed six different species of ferns in 5 minutes.  I didn't photograph the Western Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum, because it was present mainly as dried-up and flattened specimens from last summer.  The five I did photograph - hence the title of this post - were green and lush, mostly growing on or below the rock wall in the last photo.
After a break for dinner and ping pong, I'll post some fern talk, complete with unpronounceable Latin names.
7:36 p.m.  I'm back, and in a good mood.  I reviewed the 150 photos I took on Saturday and found one more, now the top photo, which is a species of Club Moss, Lycopodium sp., which is a fern relative.  With most ferns, the part you see is called a frond, and it is an asexual phase of a plant whose sexual phase takes place near the ground during rainiest season.  The fronds, as in the sixth photo from the top, produce millions of spores in little clusters called sporangia.  The ferns, like most jellyfish, undergo what is known as "alternation of generations," that is an asexual generation alternating with a sexual generation, and so on.  If you want to know how this works, consult any good high school biology textbook, or a handy little book called the Pacific Coast Fern Finder.  Most any field guide to the frns will have information about their anatomy and reproductive methods.  The bottom photo shows the kind of habitat where ferns are common in Plumas County. 
The ferns above are as follows, starting from the top: Club Moss, or Lycopodium sp.; Sword Fern, Polystichum sp.; Parsley Fern, Cryptogramma acrostichoides; Bird's-foot Fern, Pellaea mucronata; Western Polypody, Polypodium herperium (2 photos); Giant Chain Fern, Woodwardia fimbriata; then the photo of the habitat.  Amongst the dense beds of mosses and ferns, we saw the embryonic leaves of many wildflowers that will be appearing in the coming months.  We'll be visiting this area several more times during the spring.  I think of spring not as the official calendar dates, or marked by the equinox, but more by what's happening with the vegetation.  In this case, it's already spring in the lower Feather River Canyon and the Great Valley.  I love to follow spring up the Sierra where it doesn't arrive at the highest elevations until late June or early July.  One of the great things about living in Quincy is that within an hour's drive we can experience spring for about 6 or 7 months.

1 comment:

  1. Another report from Saturday's Bear Creek expedition. If we had walked up this path trees for sale