Fern Identification Please...

erikak99(z8 WA)April 27, 2005

Hi Happy Garden Webbers...

I have a native NW fern on my wild hill and I can't figure out what it is... By description it sounds like a licorice fern, but I have several and the tallest is over 3 feet now (late spring) and the licorice is only supposed to get only 24". Leaves grow on the upper half of the sparse stems - only 2-4 per plant. Not wet or thick enough to be Ostrich... It likes part sun and is very drought tollerant - I never water there in the summer. Any thoughts? And can anyone tell me how successful I'd be relocating them? I'd like to, but have heard bad things about moving ferns in general. Many thanks!


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What kind of substrate is it growing on? The Polypodiums (including licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrhiza) are generally on rock or epiphytic on trees. Could you describe the leaves? The Polypodiums are also quite distinctive in this regard; when it comes to the NW US, Woodwardia fimbriata is the only other fern I'm aware of with pinnatifid (the leaflets aren't truly distinct, all being connected at the base; see link) leaves.

Patrick Alexander

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 3:14PM
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erikak99(z8 WA)

Thanks Patrick, They are growing on a steep hill, rocky, old heavy clay soil that never gets supplimental water (not to mention fertilizer or amendments), yet they seem to slowly multiply every year. They are on a patch of hill that I have ignored for the last 5 years (too distant and steep to water or mow), and they are nestled in among Scotch Broom, crab grass and blackberries that are over running the place. Each stem seems from the top to be its own plant - One stalk that divides mid way up, with 3-5 "branches", and each of those has a very broad triangle of fern-looking, feathery leaves. Could this be a NON fern in disguise? I'm still completely puzzled. Went up there today though and there are several around 3' high.
-E ;>

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 5:59PM
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erikak99(z8 WA)

Ha! I found it! Its a Bracken Fern. After much digging, the internet comes through! Here's the link I found with general info and photos... Thanks again Patrick for your help!

Here is a link that might be useful: Bracken Fern

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 6:12PM
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Habitat sounds right for licorice fern, but the description of leaves sure doesn't. Sounds like bracken, Pteridium aquilinum. See the link. If that's what it is, each stalk is a single leaf. If that's not what it is... I'd guess something else that's looking ferny, as I can't think of any ferns other than bracken that'd fit the description.

Patrick Alexander

Here is a link that might be useful: Wisconsin University Herbarium: Pteridium aquilinum

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 6:13PM
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LOL! Looks like you beat me to it by a minute or so.

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 7:56PM
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