All posts by Andrew Leonard

Pilularia globulifera

As part of Fred Rumsey’s new national Pillwort survey (see Pteridologist 2015 page 161), Ashley and I set out to do a “rece” for the forthcoming Wessex Pilularia survey meeting.
Pilularia globulifera is a strange fern that may not look very fern-like at first sight.
It can grow on the land or partly or totally submerged in water.
Although the fronds do not look ferny, the plant does have “croziers” which unfurl like other ferns.
It gets its name from the “pills” which tend to develop on the plant when it is growing out of the water. It can have a large number of pills. These pills will vary in colour from yellow-green, through yellow-brown, dark red, brown to black
Pilularia in the New Forest seems to grow in places where there is running water and often where cows or horses have “poached” the ground. It grows in colonies by the edges of streams where the water is relatively still. Occasionally it can be found in pools. It seems to dislike competition but is fast growing. It grows in areas where the water level can vary throughout the year but needs some water. It can look very luxurious when growing just under the water but also can look stressed when the ground dries out. How it survives the winter is a bit of a mystery.

Click here to see a “heat map” of Pilularia in the New Forest

If this interests you at all, please come along to the Wessex group meeting on Saturday August 8th.

Ophioglossum vulgatum at Hilsea Lines

Ophioglossum vulgatum at Hilsea Lines
Ophioglossum vulgatum at Hilsea Lines
This is a fern that I delight in seeing. I was shown this site several years ago. It is righth at the Northern most edge of the Island of Portsmouth. It is a somewhat scruffy location where people walk their dogs. There a lot of “leaves” but I could only find a few plants with fertile spikes. The fertile plants are quite large

Botrychium lunaria in the New Forest

Following upon some information, Jo and Ashley Basil found 5 plants of Botrychium lunaria near Appleslade Bottom in the New Forest. I arranged to visit this site with Ashley the following day and we managed to find over 20 plants of various sizes and states of fertilty. This was the first time any of us had found this extremely rare plant in the New Forest

More Ferns on Palms

After my last post, I thought that I would go and have a closer look at the Phoenix canariensis on Southsea Common. There are 6 of them.

Southsea common as seen by Google Earth
Southsea common as seen by Google Earth

Imagine my surprise when I found that there were ferns growing on every one of these palm trees.

Phoenix canariensis #1

There are two ferns growing on the south face of the Palm

Asplenium scolopendrium and Polystichum setiferum
Asplenium scolopendrium and Polystichum setiferum
Phoenix canariensis #2

There is one plant of Dryopteris dilatata growing on the north side and a small Dryopteris filx-mas growing on the south face

Dryopteris dilatata
Dryopteris dilatata
Young plant of Dryopteris filix-mas
Young plant of Dryopteris filix-mas
Phoenix canariensis #3

There is one plant of Dryopteris dilatata growing on the south-west side

Dryopteris dilatata
Dryopteris dilatata
Phoenix canariensis #4

Asplenium scolopendrium growing on the west side of the Palm

Asplenium scolopendrium
Asplenium scolopendrium facing west
Phoenix canariensis #5
Asplenium adiantum-nigrum
Asplenium adiantum-nigrum facing east
Asplenium adiantum-nigrum sporangia
Asplenium adiantum-nigrum sporangia
Dryopteris dilatata
Dryopteris dilatata facing north-east
Dryopteris filix-mas
Dryopteris filix-mas
Phoenix canariensis #6

This was by far the most fern infested palm of the lot.

Dryopteris dilatata, Dryopteris filix-mas & Asplenium scolopendrium
Dryopteris dilatata, Dryopteris filix-mas & Asplenium scolopendrium facing north-east
Dryopteris dilatata & Dryopteris filix-mas facing east
Dryopteris dilatata & Dryopteris filix-mas
Athyrium filix-femina
Athyrium filix-femina
A young but perfectly formed Dryopteris affinis
A young but perfectly formed Dryopteris affinis facing south
Plan of Palm Trees
Plan of Palm Trees

Ferns on Palms

Phoenix canariensis on Southsea Common, Hampshire, UK
Phoenix canariensis on Southsea Common, Hampshire, UK
Some 15 years ago or so, the Portsmouth Council planted some Phoenix canariensis palm trees on Southsea Common, which is next to the sea front. They have survived very well and now are quite handsome specimens. I noticed that one had a plant growing on it that looked like a fern. If you look very carefully you might be able to see a green blob on its trunk. I have noticed that in more tropical countries, ferns often like to grow on the trunks on palm trees.


Dryopteris dilatata growing on the palm tree trunk
Dryopteris dilatata growing on the palm tree trunk
When I went to examine this fern, I first thought it must be bracken but on closer inspection, it turned out to be Dryopteris dilatata, the broad buckler fern. Although common in Hampshire, this fern is quite rare in the island of Portsmouth.


Phoenix canariensis at Praia de Vilarrube, Galicia, Spain
Phoenix canariensis at Praia de Vilarrube, Galicia, Spain
This is a more impressive fern collection from Praia de Vilarrube, Galicia, Spain, which I found in 2012