Nature Notes

Vol. XII November, 1934 No. 11

Oak Fern

Dryopteris linnaena (1)

In the moist, humid woods, in the shade of the dense forests of the lower slopes about "The Mountain" grows this delicately beautiful plant.

Oak Fern

It is not evergreen, and so it enlivens our woodlands only during the summer months, growing from the lower Park boundaries to an elevation of about 4000 feet.

The slender stalk, about four to eight inches tall supports three pinnae at its crest which spreads out in a flat spray. The accompanying sketch illustrates but one of these pinnae due to lack of space. Portions of the stem of each of the other two indicate the general arrangement. In general outline these pinnae are triangular in shape - broad at the base and narrowing to a slender tip. The margins of the ultimate segments are lobed and are entire - that is, their margins are not possessed of minute teeth which otherwise would give them margin a rough appearance like a saw blade.

These fronds wither rapidly when picked and seen lose their beauty by so doing. They spring from a widely creeping rhizome that grows just beneath the surface of the soil. Often one finds the Oak Fern growing upon old rotting logs, its feathery appearance lending beauty to the forest giant that is slowly returning to the earth from which it originally grows.

In addition to being one of the more common plants of our wooded slopes, it has also been reported in similar situations over a wide range of territory from Alaska to the southern Rocky Mountain region; east to the Appalachians; in Greenland, Europe, and Asia.

C. Frank Brockman,
Park Naturalist.

(1) See Frye, "Ferns of the Northwest", Metropolitan Press, Portland, Oregon. 1931.

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