Peripheral, But Not Insignificant

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marginal wood fern, marginal shield fern, leather fern
Dryopteris marginalis
Dryopteridaceae

beautiful specimen near Snyder’s Landing, June 2015

 

While out looking for something green (other than Christmas fern and rock polypody), I found marginal wood fern.  “Marginal” not because it’s insignificant, but because the sori are located along the margins of the pinnules.

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sori along the edges of the pinnules

 

Marginal wood fern is widespread across the eastern US and Canada, except in Iowa and Minnesota, where it’s threatened.  New York lists it as exploitably vulnerable.

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scaly stipes

 

Like so many ferns, it likes a damp habitat.  In the Maryland Piedmont look for it in ravines and rocky slopes.  I found dozens of them clambering over cliffs at the edge of Cabin John Creek, in an area that’s always wet from seeping groundwater.

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groovy – er, grooved – rachis

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