Saturday, June 21, 2008

Berkshire Ferns

Trips to The Belfry were always happy occasions. Fresh air, vigorous activity, cold nights; fishing, canoeing, camping; shopping (hardware, groceries, tackle), building (new porch, new steps to the lake), wood fired cooking (both in the kitchen and outside). We loved those trips. We spent time with our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. And, without quite knowing it, we learned a lot. Grandfather knew the names and habits of every animal and most plants; he wanted us to know how to identify the things around us also.

Some of the education stuck, but not enough. I was perhaps a C student. Today, I might pass a test to identify animals but I would fail dismally to identify most plants. I don't know how Grandfather remembered everything. We have Google. With that resource in mind, I decided to learn which ferns inhabit my woods.

After an hour or so in tick land and several more on the computer, I can now identify, with a degree of confidence, seven of the eight ferns I found (I gave up on the fern at the top of this post). Given the similarity among many of the ferns, I suspect I will find more on my next field trip. The Connecticut Botanical Society was excellent. The USDA site was helpful but cumbersome.

Bracken Fern

Christmas Fern

Cinnamon Fern

Maidenhair Fern

Mountain Woodfern

New York Fern

Sensitive Fern

And finally, the mountain laurel I thought was ready to blossom a month ago, has opened up.

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