The first fern fiddles are emerging from the ground.
The Japanese Holly fern, Cyrtomium falcatum, is always first.
Fronds are specialized leaves growing from underground stems.
They roll out from the base to protect the tiny new leaflets.
Other protection involves scales which drop off after the young fronds emerge.
They are also covered by hairs for defense.
Once these fronds mature, they will be tough enough not to need scales and hairs.
Mature fronds produce spores on their undersides for reproduction.
Here are spots where sporangia were last season. The spores have been released.
I find fern fronds fascinating.
It’s the time of year when plants get ready to go dormant here in North Carolina.
This means in addition to losing leaves, plants set seed or form spores. This hopefully ensures another generation of plants.
This November is a little unusual because it has been so warm that we still have flowers blooming and bees buzzing. I have even had second generation seeds germinate and flower this season.
I will take you on a tour of s’more spores. Seeds will follow in another post.
Sensitive fern/Onoclea sensibilis sends up its own spores on a stick. These are referred to as beads.
Its fronds are sterile, i.e. do not produce spores.
Chain fern/ Woodwardia areolata has a separate spore bearing structure, also.
Its fronds do not produce spores either.
The Japanese Holly fern/Cyrtomium falcatum has a sporadic spore arrangement. No pun intended.
Its fronds are evergreen.
Here is one sorus from the Japanese Holly fern under the microscope.
Stay tuned for seeds.
Baby fern fronds are called fiddleheads.
They unfurl from the earth, unrolling and lengthening as they spread out their leaflets.
A cross-section looks like that of a chambered nautilus.
This fiddle is from one of my favorite ferns, the Japanese holly fern/Cyrtomium falcatum.
One reason I love this fern is its random arrangement of sori on the underside of the fronds.
No nice little rows for this fern.
When the fiddles unfurl, spring has sprung.
Wait for it…
Follow the Flower