Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Yes, fiddleheads - but no…

Osmunda fiddlehead

not edible Ostrich Fern fiddleheads. These photographed along the track just north of the Chalet on Limerick Road, are of the genus Osmunda, (Fred said) as we finished our tour of the automobile trails in Limerick Forest in the late afternoon today, failing to find fiddleheads for supper.

There were three Osmunda species pushing up fat fuzzy coiled shoots in Limerick Forest today - Royal Fern, Cinnamon Fern, and Interrupted Fern. They bear their spores beneath all of their fronds, while Ostrich Fern, and the small, non-feathery Sensitive Fern have special "fertile fronds" which curl up around their spores and hold them high and dry through the winter in narrow brown clubs. Limerick Forest has Sensitive Fern all over.

We had gone first to the patch of Ostrich Fern where I painted fiddleheads last year, finding the tall brown fertile fronds and the rhizome clumps all 'bed-head' with old grey frond litter. They still hold their embryonic fiddleheads in a scaley gray knot, which we did not disturb. Ken has told us that the fiddleheads are up a few inches high along the creek in Lyn Valley, but they are not up yet here on the north-facing side of the roadbed where perhaps the snow melted later. They might have been up elsewhere in Limerick, but we didn't find them where we looked. Not wanting to return home fiddleheadless, I satisfied myself with a photographic image of the "not edible" Osmunda fiddleheads. For supper we steamed store-bought Cabbage - and from our own garden, this year's first three spears of Asparagus.


  1. Osmunda, of course, have fertile leaflets (Royal or Interrupted) or entire fertile fronds (Cinnamon), it's just that they don't have hardened woody fertile fronds, as the elusive Ostrich Fern and the apparently omnipresent Sensitive Fern do. We mark down every place we encounter Ostrich Ferns, but today we didn't consult the database to see where those places might be.

    What this turned out to be was a tour of where Trillium grandiflorum was blooming in Limerick Forest (South), an important question in the nutrient management of the forest (not to mention their loveliness & diversity), since "spring wildflowers" retain nutrients that might otherwise be lost before the trees are fully activated in the spring, and they haven't fully colonized the regrown and planted forests of Limerick. The answer is that Trilliums and a few other species are present, but not widespread.

  2. It would be interestinig to map the Trillium patches, as they are easy to see at this time of the year.


What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?