Freitag, 28. Juni 2013

Plant of the Day - Asplenium scolopendrium L.

After a long time, I want to present you a new fern in my blog. This fern is Asplenium scolopendrium L. from the Aspleniaceae family. The German name for this fern is “Hirschzungenfarn” (Deer-tongue fern) or simply “Hirschzunge” (Deer-tongue). In English, the species is known as hart's-tongue fern.

1) Description

A. scolopendrium - habitus

A. scolopendrium is smaller fern, which can reach heights between 10 and 100 centimeters (3.9 to 39.4 inches) A plant consists of several fronds, which grow in a dense, funnel-shaped stock. Unlike the fronds of other ferns like Dryopteris filix-mas or Athyrium filix-feminia, the fronds of A. scolopendirum aren't pinnate but tongue-shaped and have a slightly lobbed margin. In addition, they are heart-shaped at the base with distinctive ears

 A. scolopendrium - frond (you can also see
the distinctive, heart-shaped leaf-base with its ears

Young fronds have a bright-green colour but they become dark-green with age. Another interesting feature are the branched leaf-veins, which runs from the central rachys (the rip in the center) to the margin. Botanists suspect, that these veins are a more primitive character, which classifies A. scolopendrium as a very basal taxon of ferns.

A. scolopendrium - the stalks of the fronds with the scales

The Sori (the sporangia-clusters with the spores) are located on the ventral side of the fronds. They have a linear shape and are arranged in parallel lines, which are oblique to the rachys. Unlike other ferns like Blechnum spicant, there is no difference between fertile and sterile fronds; they look the same. The spores become ripe between late summer and early autumn.

A. scolopendrium - frond

As with other ferns, there are many hybrids and polyploid subspecies of A. scolopendrium, which may differ in morphology. For example, there is a popular garden form of this fern, which have a stronger curled margin.

3) Habitat and Distribution

A. scolopendrium -in a forest

A. spcolopendrium is native to the temperate realms of the Northern Hemisphere and can be found in the oceanic areas of Europe, North America and Asia. However, it's not widespread and can be found selective in only a few regions. Thereby, the species is protected by law in some countries (like Germany).

A. scolopendrium - in a shaft

The fern prefers fresh, shady places on north exposed slopes. So, it can be found in the undergrowth of gorge forest between maple and oak trees. But in some cases, the plant can also be found in cities on ruderal wasteland, at walls and in the shafts of basements. This is probably, when the deposited rock is calcareous.

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