It’s a good time of year to be watching for emerging fiddleheads, also called croziers. Here’s a random assortment of some I’ve found, including several that I haven’t identified; that will probably have to wait for fertile fronds to emerge later in the year.
I just love this one; it looks like a dragon or alien monster or something. This fern is all over the place at Sugarloaf Mountain and Rachel Carson Conservation Park; I expect it’s one of the Dryopteras. It is not one of the evergreen ferns.
Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), below, is easily identified because it’s so hairy.
Another unknown (right and below); I’ve been seeing it in wet areas in parts of Montgomery County other than the Potomac Gorge.
And this one (right) was a good find. It’s the fertile frond of a rattlesnake fern (Botrypus virginianus), which I’ve only seen once before. You can see the spherical sori contained within. This plant was in Rachel Carson Conservation Park, where I went to see the pinxter azaleas in bloom. (More on that in a few days.) Below is a picture from last year, showing the fully developed fertile frond.