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Notes on Robbin C. Moran's
A Natural History of Ferns

Notes on Robbin C. Moran's A Natural History of Ferns
By J. Zimmerman


  1. The Life Cycle of Ferns.
    1. In Search of the Fern Seed.
    2. Spore Shooting.
    3. Sporadic Results.
    4. The Asexual Revolution.
    5. Reproduction by Buds.
    6. Hybridization and Polyploidy.

  2. Classification of Ferns.
    1. The Falsely Famed Fern Allies. "Nowadays [thanks to genetic information] neither whisk ferns nor horsetails should be called fern allies — they are ferns."
      [p. 62: All fern allies "are misnamed". This includes the horsetails (Equisetum).
      p. 63: Horsetails and ferns are "
      p. 69: "The true fern allies are the seed plants, with which ferns share a more recent common ancestor."]
    2. The Fern Fraternity.
    3. Genres of Genera.
    4. At the Movies.

  3. Fern Fossils.
    1. Giants of the Carboniferous.
    2. A Horsetail's Tale?
    3. Hangers-on from the Mesozoic.
    4. The Fern Spike.
    5. How Old Are Ferns?

  4. Adaptations by Ferns.
    1. The Potato Fern.
    2. How Ferns Became Trees.
    3. Iridescent Ferns and Their Shady Behavior.
    4. Leaf Scales and Water Uptake.
    5. Some Quirks of Quillworts.
    6. Bracken, the Poisoner.
    7. Spira Mirabilis.

  5. Fern Geography.
    1. Robinson Crusoe's Ferns.
    2. Sino-American Relations.
    3. Ferns of the Lost World.
    4. Ferns, Flashlights, and Tertiary Forests.
    5. Tropical Diversity.

  6. Ferns and People.
    1. Serpent's Tongue Tea.
    2. The Molesting Salvia.
    3. Little Nitrogen Factories.
    4. Nardoo.
    5. Pteridomania.
    6. The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary


Ferns of Big Basin State Park

Ferns seen in Big Basin S.P.:

On Berry Creek Falls loop On OWCH loop The Dreaded Latin and Greek Appearance
bracken fern bracken fern Pteridium aquilinum Large, coarse. Triply divided. Sori form a continuous band edging each pina.
chain fern, giant chain fern, giant Woodwardia fimbriata Largest native fern. Doubly divided usually. Sori linear "chains".
coffee fern Pellaea addromedifolia Rounded pinnae. Doubly divided; brown fronds in late summer. Leaf edges curl into false indusia to protect sori.
deer fern deer fern Blechnum spicant Corse; fronds narrow at base. Singly divided. Sori fill the narrow pinae of fertile fronds.
five-finger fern five-finger fern Adiantum pedaturm [PCFF]
goldback fern goldback fern Pentagramma triangularis
horsetail, common horsetail, common Equisetum arvense [to check if also have: Equisetum telmateia ssp braunii = giant horsetail.]
lace fern, California Aspidotis californica [to check if also have: Aspidotis carlotta-halliae = Carlotta Hall's lace fern ]
lady fern, common Athyrium filix-femina Doubly or triply divided. Soft and delicate; dies back fall/winter. Crescent indusia.
maidenhair, California maidenhair, California Adiantum jordanii
Polypody, California Polypody, California Polypodium californicum [to check if also have: Polypodium calirhiza = nested polypody ]
shield fern [To check if also have: Polystichum dudleyi = Dudley's shield fern ; or Polystichum munitum = western shield fern] Doubly divided. "Hilt" at base of each pinna.
sword fern, California sword fern, California Polystichum californicum Singly divided. "Hilt" at base of each pinna. Crescent indusia.
wood fern, coastal wood fern, coastal Dryopteris arguta Doubly divided. Tougher and firmer than lady fern. Broad triangular outline. Round sori; horseshoe indusia.

An Illustrated Field Key to the Flowering Plants of Monterey County — and Ferns

An illustrated field key to the flowering plants of Monterey County — and ferns, fern allies, and conifers (1997) by Mary Ann Matthews includes ferns seen in Monterey County.

The convoluted title, however, draws attention to the author's no-longer-correct view of 'fern allies' and the correct story is in Robbin Craig Moran's A Natural History of Ferns. Horsetails, which should be considered ferns, found in Monterey are:

Horsetail Family [Remember that A Natural History of Ferns includes reference to DNA research that shows horsetails as ferns, rather than "fern allies".] Equisetum: 5 species including common horsetail and giant horsetail
Deer Fern Family Woodwardia: 1 species: Woodwardia fimbriata
Bracken Family Pteridium: 1 species: Pteridium aquilinum
Wood Fern Family 1. Polystichum: 4 species including sword fern and shield fern.
2. Athyrium: 1 species: A. felix-femina, western lady fern.
3. Cystopteris: 1 species: C. fragilis, bladder fern.
4. Dryopteris: 1 species: D. arguta, wood fern.
Polypody Family Polypodium: 3 species including California polypody and liquorice fern.
Brake Family 1. Pentagramma: 2 species including gold-back fern.
2. Andiantum: 3 species including California maidenhair fern and Venus-hair fern.
3. Aspidotis: 3 species including California lace-fern.
4. Cheilanthes: 4 species including lace fern.
5. Pellaea: 2 species including lace fern.

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