A magnificent fern, universally admired. Well named by the great Linnaeus, regalis, royal, indeed, in its type of queenly beauty. The wine-colored stipes of the uncoiling fronds shooting up in early spring, lifting gracefully their pink pinnae and pretty panicles of bright green spore cases, throw an indescribable charm over the meadows and clothe even the wet, stagnant swamps with beauty nor is the attraction less when the showy fronds expand in summer and the green sporangia are turned to brown. The stout rootstocks are often erect, rising several inches to a foot above the ground, as if in imitation of a tree fern. The poet Wordworth hints at somewhat different origin of the name from that given here.
“Fair ferns and flowers and chiefly
that tall fern
So stately of the Queen Osmanda named.”
[Illustration: Royal or Flowering Fern Osmunda regalis]
The royal fern may be transplanted with success if given good soil, sufficient shade and plenty of water. Common in swamps and damp places. Newfoundland to Virginia and northwestward.
[Illustration: Sori of Osmunda regalis (From Waters’s “Ferns,” Henry Holt & Co.)]
(2) INTERRUPTED FERN. CLAYTON’S FERN
Fronds pinnate, one to five feet high. Pinnae cut into oblong, obtuse lobes. Fertile fronds taller than the sterile, having from one to five pairs of intermediate pinnae contracted and bearing sporangia.
[Illustration: Interrupted Fern. Osmunda Claytoniana]
The fronds have a bluish-green tint; they mature their spores about the last of May. The sterile fronds may be distinguished from those of the cinnamon fern by not having retained, like those, a tuft of wool at the base of each pinna. Besides, in Clayton’s fern the fronds are broader, blunter and thinner in texture, and the segments more rounded; the fronds are also more inclined to curve outwards. They turn yellow in the fall, at times “flooding the woods with golden light,” but soon smitten by the early frosts they wither and disappear. The interrupted fern is rather common in damp, rocky woods and pastures; Newfoundland to Minnesota, south to North Carolina and Missouri. Although fond of moisture it is easily cultivated and its graceful outlines make it worthy of a prominent place in the fern garden. Var. dubia has the pinnules of the sterile frond widely separated, and the upper-middle ones much elongated. Southern Vermont.
[Illustration: Interrupted Fern with the Fertile Pinnules Spread Open]
(3) CINNAMON FERN. BRAKES
Fronds one to six feet long, pinnate. Pinnae lanceolate, pinnatifid with oblong, obtuse divisions. Fertile pinnae on separate fronds, which are contracted and covered with brown sporangia.
[Illustration: Cinnamon Fern. Leaf Gradations]
[Illustration: Cinnamon Fern. Gradations from Sterile to Fertile Fronds]