Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
from the October 25, 2009 Newsletter,
from near Natchez, Mississippi
BROAD BEECH FERN
It's an especially good time of the year to be paying attention to ferns because now their spore-producing "fruit dots" or sori are well developed, and sori often are as important in fern identification as flowers are in wildflower IDing. A fern drawing my attention this week down in the bayou, however, didn't need to show its sori for me to know it because its frond was so distinctive -- like a deeply incised triangle held aloft on a slender, 15-inch stem, seen above.
That's the Broad Beech Fern, PHEGOPTERIS HEXAGONOPTERA, typical of rich, moist soil just like we have down in our steep-walled bayous. Broad Beech Ferns occur throughout eastern North America except in the northernmost parts. You can see its sori below:
These sori are different from most of those we've looked at lately in that they are "naked" -- aren't associated with cellophane-like indusia which cover part of the sori of many fern species. Here the microscopic, baglike affairs that open to release spores, the sporangia, are simply clustered on the fronds' undersides with no indusia at all.