Mon

05

May

2014

Life on Distant Hill Blog ...Bronze Fern

A Very Unique Native Fern...Uncommon but not Rare

The uncut form of Cut-leaved Grape Fern (Botrychium dissectum obliquum)
Broad leaf form of Bronze Fern (Botrychium dissectum obliquum)

The Bronze Fern, also known as Cut-leaved Grape Fern or the Common Grape Fern, is unusual in that it grows in one of two forms, a broad leaf form (Botrychium dissectum obliquum), or a skeletonized cut-leaf form (Botrychium dissectum dissectum).

 

This small grape fern also has an unusual life cycle. It begins it growth during the late summer, when new leaves (both fertile and infertile) are produced.

Cut-leaf form of Bronze Fern (Botrychium dissectum dissectum)
Cut-leaf form of Bronze Fern (Botrychium dissectum dissectum)

The infertile leaves remain alive during the winter, changing from a green to a beautiful bronze in response to below freezing temperatures. These leaves may wither away during the spring (although not always), and the fern persists in a dormant state during the summer, until the same cycle repeats itself beginning in the following August or September.

 
Fertile Frond of the Bronze Fern (Botrychium dissectum dissectum) emerges in mid September.
Fertile Frond of the Bronze Fern (Botrychium dissectum dissectum) emerges in mid September.