Sunday, March 01, 2015

A mouthful of centipedes

Rows of spores on a hart's-tongue fern in Laurie's shade garden.

Asplenium scolopendrium, I think.

A cluster of spores makes up a sorus, from the ancient Greek for "pile, heap". In the hart's-tongue, the sori are long rows; in our common native ferns, they're round dots. These long sori reminded somebody of a centipede, so the fern was named, in Latin, for a centipede: "scolopendrium".

(They look more like caterpillars to me, but according to the naming conventions, the first person to describe a plant or critter gets to name it.)

Here's the whole fern. And the fronds are supposed to look like deer's tongues. With centipedes on the underside.

The imagination boggles.

2 comments:

  1. Never heard it described that way! We won't see the unfurled fronds with 'centipedes' til June.

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  2. I've never seen a fern without serrated leaves. Thanks for the lesson. - Margy

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