Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Fern

Water flowing in ephemeral stream
Christmas Fern in the winter forest
Thanks to the Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), there is always plenty of greenery decorating our winter woods. The fronds of the Christmas Fern remain green all winter and reorient themselves to a prostrate position where they are less exposed to the cold and drying winds. In addition, the warmer ground temperatures help keep the leaves warmer, allowing photosynthesis on sunny winter days. In spring, these horizontal fronds will die back as they are replaced with new upright fronds that will last through another year. The Christmas Fern gets its name from the fact that its evergreen leaves were once commonly used as holiday decorations during the Christmas season. It is also often noted that its leaflets are also shaped like Christmas stockings.

Christmas Fern
Fronds lying prostrate on the forest floor

Christmas Fern
The leaflets of the Christmas Fern resemble rows of Christmas stockings

Christmas Fern in Snow
Christmas Fern in snow

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