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Ophioglossum vulgatum v O. azoricum

Ashley Basil and I have been looking at Ophioglossums in the New Forest with GPS locations provided by Alison Bolton

It is dificult to tell these small ferns apart and it seems that small O. vulgatum can look like O. azoricum
There are some useful pictures in the The illustrated field guide to ferns and allied plants of the British isles by Jermy, C. & Camus, J. on pages 21-23
I think it is instructive in order to identify these plants to dig them up and look at the structures below the ground
It seems to be fairly true that O. azoricum does come up in pairs whereas O. vulgatum does not

Ophioglossums at Aerial Field, Farlington Marshes

I found 10 colonies of Ophioglossum vulgatum in the Aerial field, Farlington Marshes
I had been told of these ferns previously and some are “old” sites and some are new
The field is used for cattle grazing and the young cows are friendly and inquisitive
The field is rough pasture with occasional brambles bushes
The cows do not eat the brambles and the Ophioglossum colonies seem to establish themselves at the edges of the bushes and then sometimes creep out onto the grassland
I am guessingh the cows are both a blessing (they fertilise the soil and keep the competing vegetation low) and a curse (they will eat the Ophioglossums)

Ophioglossum vulgatum 2022

I revisited the Ophioglossum vulgatum colonies at Ports creek, Hilsea Lines at the top of Portsmouth Island
These fields are maintained to allow the orchids to thrive so they are only mown once a year in the autumn
The Ophioglossums seem mostly to grow around the base of the hawthorn bushes
I found 6 colonies this year
These plants vary in size from less than an inch to the one below which was about 3 x 8 inches

The allotment May 2022

These are some of the more exotic ferns that I grow in my unheaqted polytunnel on the allotment
The tempreature rarely goes below zero and we probably do not experience air frosts in the polytunnel
All these ferns have survived at least 5 years

Botrychium lunaria in May at Markway Inclosure in the New Forest 2022

Following some information from Alison Bolton, Ashley Basil and myself went to see if we could find Botryciums and Ophioglossums at the edge of Markway Inclosure in the New Forest
The area where found these plants lies between the 2 red flags on the map
We marked all the Botrychiums with bamboo barbecue skewers
We ran out of the skewers after identifying over 110 plants
We also found about 10 colonies of Ophioglossums

Botrychium lunaria in May in the New Forest 2022

Ashley & Jo Basil, Steve & Karen Munyard and myself, went to check out the Botrychiums at Appleslade Bottom
It seems as though the New Forest hs been suffering a bit of a drought this year and the bracken was only just breaking through the ground
This made it easier to see both the Botrychiums (B) and Ophioglossums (O), the latter were very small with very few fertile spikes
We count each B plant as one but O plants we count as colonies of many palnts

In past years we had found most plants in area #1 (B and O) and less plants at area #2 (B)
This year we found about 40 B in area #1 and #2 and about 11 O colonies in area #1
We also found arounf 10 B at area #3 which was new to us
At the end of our ferning we met by chance with Alison Bolton who gave us a new location (area #4) for O, where we found a large colony and also about 4 B

Previous reports can be found here

A Small Sturdy Gem

This little fern over the last couple months has made me smile each time I see it. Through all the horrible weather its always a lush little gem that’s fun to discover up in a  dark woodland corner. Its been happy growing in a log accompanied by a Hepatica. Once named Blechnum penna -marina ‘Cristatum’ , I believe it may go by Austroblechnum penna-marina ‘Cristatum’ now. Really only the size of my hand it makes a quiet statement.

Parablechnum novae-zelandiae v P. wattsii

There is some confusion about Parablechnum novae-zelandiae and Parablechnum wattsii but in fact they are easy to distinguish

Parablechnum novae-zelandiae lowest pinna are very small and almost circular whereas Parablechnum wattsii lowest pinna are only slightly smaller than the next set of pinna
There are other differences but they require the observer to be able to compare the fronds
Parablechnum wattsii has a tougher more leathery fronds which are deep green and fairly flat, one-dimensional
Parablechnum novae-zelandiae has less tough fronds which are a lighter green and a bit undulating
Both these plants are dimorphic and here I am describing the infertile fronds
Both these plants used to be called Blechnums

Hardy Doodia species in the UK

One of the things that came out of the Fern Hardiness Project was that there is some scope for more than one name for a particular species
For example, there appears to be some confusion about Doodia species that are hardy in the UK
I have quite a few Doodias on my allotment that look somewhat similar
These are hardy in the sense that they although they can look a bit miserable in the winter, they survive each year and look quite handsome from Spring through to Autumn

In correspondence with Barbara Parris, she identified plants 1-6 as Doodia australis and plant 7 as Doodia aspera
Plants 1-6 were collected from either the Azores or Madeira and may have self-spored as well on the allotment
Plant 7 was labelled “DOODIA Rough Ruby” (sic) when I bought it from a plant sales outlet in the UK
Barbara Parris says:

Doodia australis, formerly known as D. media of horticulture, (the real D. media is a tropical Northeast Australian and New Guinea species that does not appear to be in cultivation). Some forms can have two rows of sori on each side of the costa when well-grown, from Southeast Australia and New Zealand. Several basal pairs of pinnae are stalked.

I now suspect that neither Doodia media nor Doodia caudata are hardy in the UK

See Flora of Australia page 389 (pdf page 416)
See Flora of Australia page 391 (pdf page 418)

I would be interested in anybody elses comments