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Sensitive Fern
Onoclea sensibilis

This fern isn’t sensitive to touch, or to hard words. Instead its name alludes to the fact that at just a touch of frost in the spring or fall has this fern dying back pretty quickly.

This is the only fern in the family Onocleaceae, and it is an ancient species: only around, oh, 65 million years old. Comparing to the fossils found of it from Greenland to Russia to Japan, this fern has remained virtually unchanged in that time.

Alternate Names: Bead Fern, Sympathy Fern
Size: 1-3' tall
Family: Onocleaceae (Sensitive Fern Family)
Habitat: Moist areas near streams and bogs, in the woodlands. 
Identification: "Its sterile fronds, which wither early, are light to brown-mottled green and deeply cut into long lobes which almost reach the stem. Twice-pinnate fertile fronds appear in late summer and, though dead, remain upright through winter. Fiddleheads appear in the spring in shades of pale red. The roots colonize but are usually shallow, though hefty. The stalks of this fern are said to have a decorative, "beaded" appearance, lending the plant one of its common names, Bead Fern." From wildflower.org 

All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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