Something Wild
12:46 am
Fri December 27, 2013

State Fern Nominee?

  New Hampshire's a state insect, the ladybug was nominated by persuasive Concord fifth graders; the pumpkin is our state fruit courtesy of some persuasive Harrisville third and fourth graders. I'd like to plant a seed—or perhaps a spore—for nomination of rock polypody as our state fern. Here's the case.

We are the Granite State, and rock polypody ferns grow almost exclusively on granite and other rock types. It has a rugged character, needing very little soil to establish and spread on flat, rocky surfaces. It's also one of the few evergreen ferns. While most others brown and wither in fall, polypody holds strong and green against the ice and cold of winter, curling up against only the coldest onslaughts.

  It's classified as a “pioneer species” because it's first to colonize seemingly inhospitable, barren surfaces. Once it has, rock polypody builds soil as old fronds decompose and its roots break down rock surfaces weakened by repeated freeze-and-thaw cycles. In time, as soil builds, other plant species will join this rugged pioneer.

There are many noteworthy species in the wilds of New Hampshire that are easily overlooked. Among them, this small woodland fern that has adapted to colonize a seemingly inhospitable microhabitat.Easy to identify as it sits atop a boulder where it brings a touch of welcome green to the winter world; easy to understand and appreciate.

That's why rock polypody is my nominee for Granite State fern.

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