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Lady fern

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Lady fern
Lady fern 1.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species
  • A. americanum (alpine ladyfern)
  • A. filix-femina (common ladyfern)
    • A. f. angustum (subarctic ladyfern)
    • A. f. asplenioides (asplenium ladyfern)
    • A. f. cyclosorum (subarctic ladyfern)
  • A. microphyllum (akolea)
White Trillium Lady Fern.jpg
A White Trillium with the Lady Fern

Lady Fern are speciess of deciduous, perennial ferns with the scientific name belonging to the genus Athyrium. Its name is derived from its reproductive structures which are found on the sides of the frond (the leaf of the fern) and hidden in a way deemed female. Another name by which it is known is the Wood Ferns Wife.[1] They can be found almost anywhere in the United States because the Lady Fern is able to tolerate most environments and climates unlike most ferns. They are used as foods, medicines, and also as decorations. In the wild, Lady Ferns will usually be seen growing in groups. These groups are O shaped and they spread out, because of this rings of Lady Ferns are not unusual to see.[2]

Anatomy

The Sori

The Lady Fern can grow to be around twenty-four to thirty-six inches tall. Its net-like leaves are a light green color and will grow to be between twenty-six to thirty inches long and six to nine inches wide. The fronds are attached and grow from the middle base of the plant. [3] The petioles are a light green at the top and turn into a dark green as they approach the bottom. Scales are located on the petiole whose length depend on the variation of the plant and are light or dark green. The leaf blades can be about three times longer than the petioles of the plant and are bipinnate with eight or more pairs of leaflets on them. The Lady Fern does not have a taproot system, but instead has a fibrous and rhizomatous root system. Subleaflets are found with the bigger leaflets and occur in sixteen or more pairs. The sori of the plant are found on both sides of the middle vein of every subleaflet and are curved shaped like J's. The inudusia, which encases the sori, take the shape of them. [4]

Reproduction

The Lady Fern can reproduce sexually and asexually. This is called Alternation of Generations.[5] Alternation of Generations consists of two important stages. These stages are the Sporophyte stage and the Gametophyte stage. These stages are very important to the fern because these are necessary for the fern to reproduce. The first stage is the is the sporophyte stage. The spore then becomes a gametophyte and the gametophyte then produces spores. [6] Water is necessary for both of these stages. The sporophyte stage starts off with the exiting of spores from the sori which is found on the bottom of the frond. The spores germinate and mature into a small plant called a prothallus which is the area for sexual reproduction. Eggs are then produce and then grow into the new fern and the cycle continues.[7] Vegetative reproduction is another method that Lady Ferns use. The rhizomes of the fern are used for this.[8]

Ecology

This map shows the range of the lady fern. It was found on the USDA WEBSITE
.

The Lady Fern can be located around the British Columbia coast and inner wet regions. You are most likely to see them growing in moist sites. They also appear in open areas such as meadows.[9] The Lady Fern can grow in all areas of the Northern United States because they don't require much taking care of.[10] The Lady Fern has the ability to survive in cold and harsh temperatures, and can live in temperatures as low as minus thirty degrees.[11] It can be seen growing in meadows, open thickets, moist woods, and the shores of streams. They will also emerge from rock cracks, but they like shaded sites better. The Lady Fern is one of the major food sources that grizzly bears and elk consume. It was used by Native Americans as a means of drying their berries and as a covering for their food. The young fiddleheads of the Lady Fern were either cooked, baked, or consumed raw. Since there are so many Lady Ferns they will cover the floors of the forests that they inhabit and they are far from endangered. [12]

Uses

Aside from the fiddleheads of the Lady Fern being eaten by the Native Americans, the fronds were used to make a tea that helped urination and alleviated breast pain that was a result from childbirth. It was also used to assist in children. The roots of the Lady Fern also had medical purposes. If they are dried and crushed into dust, they could help heal wounds. From about the time of the 1st century A.D. oils that the roots produced, were used in removing worms from the human body. On the contrary, if one were to overdose on these oils it could cause weakness, blindness, and the person could end up in a coma.[13] They are also used as an ornament with which to adorn your house with. They were very popular during the Victorian Age as every house had them either inside or outside.[14]

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References

See Also