Ruth Marshall.

Ferns of the Dells of the Wisconsin River online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryRuth MarshallFerns of the Dells of the Wisconsin River → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Jferns! of tJje Bellg

of tte WBiSton^in Eiber


UJljp i.B. Mill IGtbrarg

Nortl! (Harnlina fitalp

This book was presented by



SOI 948604 W

106370 70

This book may be kept out TWO WEEKS
ONLY, and is subject to a fine of FIVE
CENTS a day thereafter. It is due on the
day indicated below:


5M— F45— Form ;





Illustrated with photographs by



('..I'Vltlciri' I'.ild, itv Ki-iK M.\i;sii.\l


A/T OST of tne cuts fur tnis booklet are from
-^ ■*- photographs of ferns made by Mrs.
Bennett, and used bere for tbe first time. Tbe
illustrations for tbe long beecb purple, cliff brake,
maidenbair, oak, marginal sbield, crested sbield,
spmulose wood, silvery spleenwort and sensitive
ferns are from Miss Harper s negatives, and are
part of a collection made by ber to illustrate a
booklet issued by tbe Cbicago, Milwaukee and
St. Paul railroad.

HERE is, perkaps, no group of plants wKick can give such large
returns in pleasure ana profit to the amateur naturalist as do
the ferns. Xlieir grace ana delicacy, tne attractiveness of tneir
naunts, tne satisfactory way m vi^nicn they can be preserved,
tkeir willingness to be domesticated, — all tbese characters make
them favorites witn nature lovers.

TKe Dells of tbe Wisconsin River are favored baunts of tbe ferns.
In all, twenty-seven species are known, a large majority of all of tbe ferns
native to tbe state, and a good representation of tbe ferns of tbe nortbern and
eastern states. In tbe nine miles of its wanderings between sandstone clifrs,
tbe banks of tbe Old Wiscons sbow great diversity of conditions, from tbe
standpoint of a fern: deep sbady ravines witb dripping rocks for tbe bladder
ferns; ricb moist woods running up from tbe dells for tbe sbield ferns; dry
sunny uplands to cultivated fields and woods -wbere tbe bracken grows; ex-
posed ravines witb dry shelving rocks wbere tbe purple cliff brake gets a
footbold; and wet sunny spots wbere tbe marsb fern thrives. Delicate ferns
and hardy, ferns like tbe slender cliff brake so small that they escape at-
tention unless you are ready to see them; big sturdy ferns reaching almost
to your shoulder, like a jungle of tbe interrupted fern; rare ferns whose
haunts are know^n and jealously guarded by tbe few who care for them; and
even a fe-w stragglers, like tbe walking leaf, more at home on limestone form-
ations. A. paradise of ferns!

Much of the beauty of the small ravines is due to the ferns. But

tKey Kave suffered m the last years from tke crowds of excursionists wKo
nave tramped tnem down, or pulled tnem up only to throw tKem away on
the nome trip. Tw^enty-five years ago tke fragrant fern was so common
tKat it w^as dug up and sent away ty tke basketsful. Specimens in old herbar-
iums, like that of I. A. Lapkam, Wisconsin's early naturalist, wko, kack in
tke 50 s made a collection of tke ferns of tke Dells, skow leaves six or
cigkt inckes long. Now^ one may searck all day and consider kimself in luck
if ke finds a single tiny plant. Tke raising of tke water ky tke dam
skortens up tke ravines and restricts tkeir kaunts. It is koped tkat tke
tkougktfulness and moderation of coming generations of visitors will save
tkem from furtker destruction. Tkis skort account is intended to kelp tke
beginner to a rurtker enjoyment and appreciation of tke ferns, not tke least
or tke attractions of tke Dells of tke Wisconsin.

Enougk of structure and terminology skould be mastered to get at least
a speaking acquaintance witk tke ferns, and tkat is all tkat is attempted kere.
Tke more complex study of development and reproduction is omitted.

Tke leaf, or frond, is tke distinctive part of tke fern. It is not essen-
tially different from tke leaf of a flowering plant. Very often it is muck
divided or cut (compound), and to tkis ckaracter it owes muck of its grace
and delicacy. Tkere is usually a large scaly underground stem, or rootstock,
from wkick tke leaves and roots grow. Tke primary divisions of tke blade
are called pinnae, and subdivisions of tke pinnae are called pinnules. Fern
leaves are ckaracterized by tke presence kere of tke plant s scores, or repro-

Puge Si^

ductive cells. Xnesc spores, too tiny to be readily seen witn tne naked eye,
are enclosed in little spore-cases, or sj^orangm, which grow in clusters or
lines called fruit dots, or sor}\ on the hacks oi the leaves. The son turn
hrown when ripe, and then they become a conspicuous character. They
may be naked, as in the common polypody, or covered by the rerlexed edge
of the leaf, as in the miidenhair, or they may have a special covering, the
I'ndusium, as in the shield ferns. The position and character of the son
determine largely the relationships or the ferns, and hence their classification.

In the simpler ferns, all of the leaves bear spores; but in many species
there is a division of labor, only a part of the fronds producing them. The
latter are then distinguished as the fertile, the other as the sterile leaves.
Fertile leaves may differ only slightly from the sterile, or they may be-
come so modified and specialized, as in the sensitive fern, that they have a
very different appearance from the sterile. In some cases a few pinnae only
are thus modified, as in the flowering fern.

In the nomenclature and the sequence of the species Gray s Manual
(revised, 1908), has been used throughout.

Pu^e Sevei

Page Eight


Voiyjfoaium vulgare L.

LEAVES otlong, Jeeply cut into otlong' blunt segments,
tKe blade and its divisions of nearly tKe same width
tbrougkout. Pinnae alternate, tbe sinuses between tbem
broad, reaching nearly or quite to tne midrib. Son -witnout
indusia, a row on each side or tne midvein or the upper
pinnae, very large and conspicuous, appearing m early sum-
mer, finally turning dark brown. Blade tougli, smootn and
evergreen, from a few^ incnes to a foot m lengtn; stems lignt
brown, long, several arising close together from a long, slender
creeping rootstock near the surface.

TKis sturdy fern is very common, growing everywhere
on the more exposed ledges, often hign up, and in large masses.

Pate Nine

North Carolina State College

Page Ten


Ptiego^teris ■^oly^oaioiaes Fee

LEAF blaae triangular, some-wnat longer than oroaa, com-
pound, tke segments deeply divided. Pinnae oblong,
pointed, cut almost to tne midriD, tne t^wo lo-wer narro-wed
at tne base, and turned forward and do"wn in a very cnarac-
teristic manner; upper pinnae becoming smaller and less di-
vided, forming a long sum lobe at the top. Divisions of the
pinnae oblong, blunt, tKe lower ones joining tbe midrib of tKe
blade. Son small, round, witbout indusia, close to tbe
lower edge of tbe divisions of tbe pinnae, maturing in late
summer. Blade sometimes eigbt incbes long, thin, soft,
downy, especially underneatb, yellowisb, witbering in early
autumn, usually bent at an angle w^itb tbe stem. Stems vari-
able in lengtb, often reacbing several incbes, scaly at tbe base,
arising from long slender brancbed rootstocks.

1 bis fern and its near relative, tbe oak fern, are very
characteristic of tbe ledges of many of tbe ravines, tbeir root-
stocks intertwining and filling tKe crevices, w^bile tbe blades
m crowded clusters form a border over tne overbanging rocks.

Pa^e Eleven

Puge Twelve


Ptiegopteris dryopteris (L.) Fee

T EAF ternate, of three triangular divisions, tne central
-L-/ largest, eacn pinna again aivided. Pinnules oblong,
ratner blunt, diminishing in size toward tne top, tne lower
separate, cut nearly or quite to the midriD into oolong blunt
divisions, tne upper merely scalloped and united; pinnules of
tne lateral pinnae longest on the lower side. Son small, round,
witnout indusia, close to tne edges of tne ultimate divisions.
Blade tnin, smooth, light green, sometimes six inches long, its
divisions spreading more or less at right angles to the stem,
Avhich is very long, slender and scaly at the base, and arises
from a creeping rootstock.

This IS one of ths most delicate and beautiful of the
ferns, and a very common one. It grows thickly in the
crevices of moist ledges, associated with the long beech fern.

Page Thirteen










■ w






^ M


»-.>-^ - ■- "■ 4-f

Page Fourteen


Aaiantum peaatum L.

STEM dark ckestnut, polisKed, often a foot or more in
length, forking at tne summit, tne brancnes curving
around almost at right angles to tke direction of tke stem,
bearing on one side oolong compound pinnae wnich decreases
in lengtK from the center, the entire leaf being thus somewhat
orbicular, a foot or more across. Largest pinnae six to ten
inches long, of nearly uniform -width, bearing from forty to
fifty pinnules alternately on slender stems. Pinnules tri-
angular-oblong, the upper margin cut and scalloped, the edges
reflexed to form the indusia of the oblong or crescent-shaped
son. Blades smooth, deep green. Rootstock large, dark
chaffy, much branched.

This 13, perhaps, our most beautiful fern, and the fern
heft known. Its haunts are the deep rich woods which slope
up from the moist ravines; here it is very common, growing
m graceful open clusters.

Page Fif/evn

Pi^ige Sixteen


Vteris aquilina L*.

T EAF ternate, each pinna aouDly compound and bent a-way
-*— ' from tne main stem; tne central largest, triangular,
sta.kfcl, tne lateral ones narrower. Pinnules oolong-lanceo-
late, Giviaea into oDlong olunt segments wnicn are again di-
vided in tns lower pinnules of tne middle pinna, all divisions
becoming less toward tne apex. Son forming a continuous
line along tbe edges, covered by tbe reflexed margins. Stems
straw-colored from a deep, stout rootstock. Leaves solitary,
from one to two feet across, dull green, tbick.

A large and ratner coarse fern, tbe brake groves
abundantly on tbe exposed uplands away from tbe ravines.

Page Sevetiieeii

Page EightL'vn


i^ellaea atro^urpurea (L.) Link

T EAVES narrow, nearly twice compound; pinnae widely
-^— ' separated, variable in number, oval or elliptical, one or
more or the lower pairs snort-stalked and usually divided
into from two to rive pinnae. Son orignt brown, margfinal,
covered by the entire rerlexed edge or tne blades. Sterile
rronds rare, small, witn broader pinnae. Stems wiry, smooth,
purplish, irom a short rootstock covered with bright hair-like
scales. Blades bluish, leathery, evergreen, rinally dropping
away to leave the bare stems among the clumps or young
leaves. Entire lengtK not often exceeds eight mcbes.

One occasionaly finds clumps of the purple cliff brake
m the Lower Dells, bigh up in the crevices of the dry ex-
posed rocks. It is a fern more at Kome on limestone cliffs.

Page Nineteen

Pttge Twenty


Cry^togramma stelleri (Gmel.) Prantl.

LEAVES totK fertile and sterile, the two kinds unlike,
but ^vltK transitional forms, variable. Blades yellow-
isn, small and delicate, tnm, veiny, compound, from long',
f lender straw-colored or brown stalks wnicn grow in clusters
from a tkin rootstock. Blades of sterile fronds about tw^o
inches long, broadly ovate; pinnae about seven, oblong to tri-
angular, broad, tKe upper confluent witk tke stem, tke lower
more or less completely divided. Pinnules three to five,
witn triangular bases and variously cut and scalloped tops.
Fertile fronds larger, the pinnae more numerous, all but the
uppermost more or less completely divided into oblong pinnae.
Son marginal, nearly the entire edge of the blades reflexed
to form the conspicuous indusia.

Like its relative, the purple cliff brake, this fern is
more often found in limestone regions, but its habits are en-
tirely different. It is rare in the Wisconsin Dells, and one
of the most delicate, as it is one of the smallest species. It
grows in the crevices of wet rocks which are well shaded by
overhanging ledges.

/\ii,'t' Twenl\-»ne

Page Twenly-two


Asjtienium tricnomanes (i-*.}

T EAVES linear, very slender, once divided. Pinnae
-■— ' Tirteen to twenty pairs, -widely separated, one-Kalr an
men or legs in length, the sides unequal, round or oblong
with scalloped edoes. Son very conspicuous, oblong", three
to six arranged ooliquely along the sides of the midrih, cov-
ered v^ith delicate indusia. Blades dark, evergreen, on dark
purplish wiry polished steins, which arise in clusters from a
short scaly rootstock, and persisting after the blades fall away.
Largest leaves about seven inches m length.

The spleenworts are represented in the Dells by three
species, of which this is the smallest. The maidenhair
spleenwort is rather common but easily escapes notice. It
finds a foothold in small crevices of rather dry shaded rocks,
where it spreads out its clusters of dainty slender leaves in-
termingled with the dead stems of previous years.

>5^^'^' ; '', -M ^1^



^^, -^A- '

Page Tweiity-fo


Asplenium acrostrictioiaes Sw.

T ARGE oblong' leaves, tapering at both ends, compound.
-■— ' Pinnae numerous, widely separated, linear, tapering" to
a slender apex, cut almost to tne midriD into many oblong'
blunt segments, sligfntly tootned. Son oblong, largfe, three to
SIX pairs closely and regularly packed on eitner side or tbe
midrib, ocupying most or tne under side or the blades, cov-
ered wKen young with silvery indusia. Many leaves sterile.
Blades dark, ratner delicate, slig'htly bairy, becoming coarser,
erect and more heavily fruited in sunny places. Stems
sligbtly cnarry, straws-colored, from thick, creeping' rootstocks,
tne entire fronds one to two feet long', forming nearly circu-
lar clumps.

Groups of tbis fern are rather common in the ricb,
moist woods forming tbe slopes of tbe larg'e ravines; it is
often associated -witb tbe lady fern and tbe wood ferns, wbicb
it somewhat resembles. ibe mdusia remaining silvery-
w^hite till mid-summer give tbe characteristic appearance to
tbe back of tbe fern w^bicb bas suggested tbe common name;
later tbe leaves become brow^n and scraggy.


North Carolina State College

Pagf Twenly-si.x


Asfilenium filix-femina (L.) Bernn.

T EAVES large, broadly lanceolate, twice pinnate. Pin-
-*— ' nae numerous, oblong, -witb very tapering points. Pin-
nules oblong, very numerous, tbe bases confluent with tbe
stem by very narrow margins, tbe small upper ones more or
less united, tbe edges variously tootbed. San sbort witb
straigbt or curved indusia, in two roAvs on eacb pinnule, be-
coming very conspicuous in late summer. Fertile and sterile,
leaves alike. Stems usually straw-colored, growing in turts
from a creeping rootstock. Entire rrond two or more feet
in lengtb.

Xbis is tbe most delicate of tbe large ferns; it grows in
graceful clumps in sbaded moist w^oods in tbe ravines or up-
lands, and is very common. Mucb of its beauty is lost by
midsummer, w ben tbe leaves become beavily fruited and torn.

/'..-.■ 7'ue/


Online LibraryRuth MarshallFerns of the Dells of the Wisconsin River → online text (page 1 of 2)