A Huge Boulder
I’ve gotten to know my mountain here where I live, quite well since I’ve been hiking everyday that weather allows. One of many favorite spots is up where wild columbine grows in profusion, in scarlet dress, and cinnabar chanterelles pop up like tiny gum drops, all over the hill side. Just past that spot of red treats, both for the eye and the tummy, is a very large boulder that is surrounded by feathery fern fronds. Pale apple green, nodding with the wind. So many ferns. These are Northern Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina.
I’ve been watching this swath of ferns, growing in circular clusters, since they had baby fiddleheads way back in the spring. Funny to think that back then I could actually see the ground.
The ground is now totally covered with ferns. Ferns with their fronds no longer pale apple green, but turning gold, like so many things do in the autumn. A sea of golden fronds.
Resting For The Winter
Those golden fronds are preparing to fade away for the winter. Letting their roots rest.
There is a fern in my woods that is evergreen though, that doesn’t fade away as autumn gives way to winter. That fern is the Christmas Fern, Polystichum acrostichoides. Perhaps this is a fern that is familiar to you. It is commonly found in garden centers, and I’m pleased to find this native in my woods, in every imaginable place. It is happy to settle nearly anywhere. I have always heard that it got its name because of the little toe on the leaflet (that leaflet is called a pinna) which looks much like a Christmas stocking.
In the spring the Christmas Fern really turns on its charm for me. I love to watch the young fiddleheads emerge from the still cool soil, unfurling as if doing an exotic dance. To dance the whole year, until new young fiddleheads emerge and do a new dance.