Week 8: Ferns
This week we are looking at 3 varieties of ferns that grow
in the forests of western Maine. Download or print and fold
the Week 8 pocket journal and see if you can find all three!
Frond: the whole blade &
the stalk below
Blade: Leafy part of the frond
Leaflet: Main division of a leaf
Fertile Fronds: leaves that bear sori or
the frond’s reproductive spore cases
Crosier: Fiddlehead or curled up
frond of an emerging fern
Traits: Grows in free-form clusters, evergreen
Blade: Dark green & narrows at tip
Leaflet: A bump near the stalk
toe of Christmas stocking or Santa sitting in
his sleigh behind his reindeer). Stalk below
the blade completely covered in scales
Fertile Fronds (when present):
On upper portion of blade that is reduced in size
Crosier: Covered with silvery white scales
Traits: Fronds grow in large colonies
Blade: In shape of triangle, but all blades have some variation
Leaflet: Pairs opposite each other (each forming a mini-bowtie)
Fertile Fronds (when present): Bead-like clusters growing on
separate stalks (begin as blue-green beads that turn brown
and persist through winter) First to turn yellowish-brown in
late summer (sensitive to cooler temps)
Crosier: Pale red
Habitat: Moist condition in sun and shade
Traits: Fronds grow in vase-like cluster
Blade: Broadest at center
Leaflets: Have tiny cinnamon-colored woolly tufts
near stalk (hairy underarms). Leaflets quite pointy
Fertile Fronds (when present):
Separate stalk that grows in center of vase and
begins as aquamarine &turns cinnamon as it matures.
Fronds eventually turn burnt orange &then brown
Crosier: Circular, densely covered with
Habitat: Wet areas, including bogs, swamps,
and along stream banks
- paper or fabric
- paint (acrylic or poster works best)
- Foam brush, paint brush or small paint roller
- disposable or reusable plate
- collected ferns and leaves
1. Collect a few examples of ferns.
2. Squirt paint on the plate- you can use one
color or make a rainbow.
3. Place your fern on the newspaper.
4 Use the brush to apply a thin layer
of paint to the fern.
5. Peel the fern off and place it paint side down
on your paper or fabric.
6. Place another piece of newspaper on top to
make a fern and paper sandwich.
7. Using your hands apply firm pressure over the fern.
8. Peel the layers away to reveal your botanical art!
My Bright Ideas details how to make beautiful trinkets and gifts
by pressing ferns and other leaves into clay. Paint when dry.
If you don't have air dry clay you can make some at the link
below from Make and Takes:
What do the Fibonacci sequence and ferns have in common?
Learn about how ferns and many other natural objects express
this mathematical property. Visit Science for Kids for a full
explanation and worksheets.
If you liked the site above, you will LOVE this one!
Watch a really amazing video. This is happening
all over the forest in the northeast right now!
Each week we feature a lesser known naturalist in our Pocket Journal Series.
In this space you will find the full quote and more information about the author.
Dr. Kathleen Pryer, Duke College Professor of Biology
Dr. Pryer led the research team that discovered a new genus of ferns in
Costa Rica, and named it the Gaga group, after androgynous singer, Lady Gaga.
“Lady Gaga is an amazing champion for equality and
compassion, and we wanted to give her a scientific
namesake that characterizes the struggle we have in
biology for understanding diversity in humanity, in all
of biology, and even in ferns.”
“[The Gaga ferns] show a complex variety of ways
about accomplishing reproduction...it’s not so much
that this particular fern shows something really bizarre
in its sexuality...it’s that all ferns and many plants do
things more than one way to achieve success.”
“We named a new genus of ferns found in Central
and South America, Mexico, Arizona and Texas in
honor of Lady Gaga because of her fervent defense
of equality and individual expression. At one stage
of its life, the new genus Gaga has somewhat fluid definitions of gender and bears a striking resemblance to one of Gaga's famous costumes. Members of the new genus also bear a distinct DNA sequence spelling GAGA at a unique position.”
More articles about the discovery:
--19 Ferns Go Gaga, National Geographic Society Newsroom
--Scientists name Costa Rica fern after Lady Gaga, Tico Times
Photo caption: Lady Gaga at the 2010 Grammy
Awards and her gametophyte (Image: Duke University)
Cinnamon Fern crosier (L) Unfurling fern (R).
Christmas Fern crosier (L) and grown fern (R).
Click the PDF icon to the left. Set to print at 95% or fit
to page. Cut around the grey border before folding.
for Your Phone
Sensitive Fern crosier (L) and unfurling Sensitive Fern (R).