Monday, October 28, 2013

Southern Wood Ferns

I never know what I'll do when I go outside to the Back Forty and Park.  Most often I end up weeding in the garden, or trimming bushes, or cutting the grass.  Today, I went around the corner of the north end of the house and started to pull up ferns that have grown freely and abundantly for a long time.

I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of ferns until I looked up "ferns" on the Internet.  I found references to ferns in Southern and Central Florida but not much in the northern part of the state.  Aha!  They haven't gotten here yet I thought initially.  How wrong!  Come to find out:  ferns are everywhere.

Clemson University (SC) gave the ferns a generic name:  "Hardy Ferns."   I wholeheartedly agree with that description.  There are Southern Shield Ferns, Southern Maiden Hair Ferns, and Widespread Maiden Ferns to mention a few.  I guess the Maidens did not stay that way for too long.  I settled for Southern Wood Fern which I believe best describes the ferns growing against the northern side of my house.

The ferns prefer a well-drained soil high in organic matter and require little care, if any at all, and are relatively pest free.  I have read that the ferns make an attractive focal point in shaded area and that they are fast growing.  Fast growing and fast spreading, that they are.  Without interruption from me, they would soon take over the side yard.

How do they multiply and spread?  Some say that they spread from rhizome and that may very well be the case.  Others say that they grow from fibrous roots.  Hmm?  I would not say that the ferns growing by the side of my house multiply from rhizomes.  I consider rhizomes to be rather hefty in size.  I am not sure what "fibrous roots" mean but that description seems to suit my ferns.

The ferns stay green year around but some of them turn brown and die down but new sprouts grow from the root system.  The brown ferns come off easy when pulled and the roots also come up easy. The roots have spikes that could put a hurt on a bare hand.  The picture shows the root system.  (It has been cut to show.)   The roots can travel and become rather large.

I feel sure that the ferns will eventually grow back but I will keep a tab on their growth.  The ferns are attractive but will I let them grow happily in the woods along-side Back Forty where I am not totally responsible for their care.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

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