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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!

31 January, 2014

Male-fern and the invisible man


The male-fern (Dryopteris filix-mas) is probably the most common British fern and is found in damp woods, ditches, hedgerows and other shady places. It is certainly common in Dorset and is especially prominent in winter when there is little competition from other foliage.
The male-fern has
big, bold, broad fronds, set alternately up the stem. The base of each stem is a little scaly but, in general, this is a very green fern. Although this is the male-fern please do not think there is a female-fern! Ferns reproduce asexually. There is a lady-fern but it is a totally different species
I was intrigued to read that the male-fern is steeped in country folklore. It was thought that the fern had the power to make anyone carrying it invisible! It seems, too, that the roots were dug up on St John's Eve, carved into the shape of a hand and then baked to make a charm to ward off witches and evil! I am not sure we still hold these superstitions, do we?
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