[Illustration: Sporangia of Curly Grass]
“And where upon the meadow’s
The shadow of the thicket lies.”
Fronds slender, climbing or twining, three to five feet long. The lower pinnae (frondlets) sterile, roundish, five to seven lobed, distant in pairs with simple veins; the upper fertile, contracted, several times forked, forming a terminal panicle; the ultimate segments crowded, and bearing the sporangia, which are similar to those of curly grass, and fixed to a veinlet by the inner side next the base, one or rarely two covered by each indusium. (From the Greek meaning like a willow twig [pliant], alluding to the flexible stipes.)
[Illustration: Climbing Fern. Lygodium palmatum]
Fifty years ago this beautiful fern was more common than at present. There was a considerable colony in a low, alluvial meadow thicket at North Hadley, Mass., not far from Mt. Toby, where we collected it freely in 1872. Many used to decorate their homes with its handsome sprays, draping it gracefully over mirrors and pictures. It was known locally as the Hartford fern. Greedy spoilers ruthlessly robbed its colonies and it became scarce, at least in the Mt. Toby region. In Connecticut a law was enacted in 1867 for its protection and with good results. But as Mr. C.A. Weatherby states in the American Fern Journal (Vol. II, No. 4), the encroachments of tillage (mainly of tobacco, which likes the same soil), are forcing it from its cherished haunts, thus jeopardizing its survival. Doubtless an aggressive agriculture is in part responsible for its scarcity in the more northern locality. It is still found here and there in New England, New York and New Jersey; also in Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida, but is nowhere common. The fertile portion dies when the spores mature, but the sterile frondlets remain green through the winter. A handsome species for the fernery in the house or out of doors.
ADDER’S TONGUE FAMILY
Plants more or less fern-like consisting of a stem with a single leaf. In Ophioglossum the leaf or sterile segment is entire, the veins reticulated and the sporangia in a simple spike. In Botrychium the sterile segment is more or less incised, the veins free, and the sori in a panicle or compound or rarely simple spike. Sporangia naked, opening by a transverse slit. Spores copious, sulphur-yellow.
ADDER’S TONGUE. Ophioglossum vulgatum
Rootstock erect, fleshy. Stem simple, two to ten inches high, bearing one smooth, entire leaf about midway, and a terminal spike embracing the sporangia, coherent in two ranks on its edges. (Generic name from the Greek meaning the tongue of a snake, in allusion to the narrow spike of the sporangia.)