of Central California's Sierra Nevada Foothills

These may be the ten most common ferns:

  1. Leathery Grape Fern, Botrychium multifidum / open woods
  2. Brittle Fern, Cystopteris fragilis / sheltered moist woods
  3. Licorice Fern, Polypodium vulgare / moist rock crevices
  4. Shield Fern, Dryopteris arguta / sheltered spots
  5. Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina / along creeks, ravines
  6. Gold Fern, Pityrogramma triangularis / crevices or exposed soil
  7. Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum / very common on burns
  8. Maidenhair Fern, Adiantum pedatum / moist, cool sites
  9. Bead Fern, Cheilanthes covillei / dry slopes, ridges
  10. Bird's-foot Fern, Pellea mucronata / rocky or gravelly places

Profiles of Selected Ferns

Gold Fern, Pityrogramma triangularisGold Fern
Pityrogramma triangularis

This fern specializes in rocky areas and often growns in rock crevices.

Gold Fern, Pityrogramma triangularis

The "gold" part of the fern isn't apparent until you turn over the frond and see the yellow to white, powdery surface, as shown below. The fronds are up to a foot long, triangular, and the stalk is slender, stiff and black.

Male Fern, Dryopteris filix-masMale Fern
Dryopteris filix-mas

Living in moist, sheltered, usually shady spots, this Dryopteris produces fronds  a yard or more long, often cascading prettiily down steep slopes. In the Foothills the Male Fern may be less common than the Shield Fern of the same genus, and sometimes it appears with that species. As the picture at the right shows, the male fern's longest frond-subdivisions arise near the middle of the frond. The Shield Fern's longest subdivisions arise near the frond's base.

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