If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

18 January, 2014

Does a deer tongue really look like this?

This is a common plant in the south west of England and especially so in many places in Dorset. The hart's-tongue fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium) can be abundant where the environment is suitable.

It can be food in woods, especially woodland on hill sides, hedgerows, among rocks, on walls, on the sides of ditches, even inside water wells. In short, it likes warm, darkish,
damp places.
The classic ferns have rather complex leaves but hart's-tongue has a smooth, shiny, undivided leaf in this familiar 'deer's tongue' shape which is so unique and enables it to be easily identified.  
Hart's-tongue is, in fact, a 'spleenwort' which are a sub-family of the fern group. The spores are released from little brown 'pockets' that form on the back of the leaf. The Hart's-tongue is in leaf all year round but produces new ones each spring.
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