Thursday, 2 May 2019

A Rare Fern in the Orchard

The other day I photographed what I assumed at the time was a group of about twenty tree seedlings coming up in the short grass of the orchard. Boy was I wrong about the identity of these little plants!

Photograph Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

As soon as I posted this photo on Facebook a friend from Wales and another from south-east England identified it as Adder's Tongue Fern Ophioglossum vulgatum (Fr. Langue de serpent). I could hardly believe it! A rare and protected fern suddenly appears in the orchard. I have no idea where it's come from and I've never seen it before anywhere, despite spending lots of time with botanists and seeing many rare and protected plants here.

My friend English friend Chris commented that it is a plant whose presence indicates well managed meadow. It is widespread but scattered in lowland France, and not common. Here in Centre-Val de Loire it is rare and protected, but it is the sort of plant that is prone to being under-recorded because it is small and not showy. In the Brenne the fern is recorded along roadsides and grasslands on poor soil, often in places that get both very wet and very dry in the course of the year.

At yesterday's botany outing everyone was super impressed that I had Ophioglossum in my orchard. Jean B went round telling everyone, and Dominque T, one of our star botanists, was particularly interested.


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chm said...

Can you still mow the orchard?

Susan said...

Dominique said I would need to mow around the ferns for the time being, but they'll go dormant and then I can mow. I have to mow round the orchids, so it's no big deal.

Rhodesia said...

Glad you got and ID and an interesting one as well. Cheers Diane

sillygirl said...

Do you think birds brought you this lovely plant?

Susan said...

FB is useful for that sort of thing.

Susan said...

No, unlikely. Probably wind born spores I would guess.

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