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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!

11 January, 2014

Money may not grow on trees ... but ferns do!

When out and about in Dorset's deciduous woodland from time to time you will find ferns growing up in the trees, quite often in mature oaks. I had seen this elsewhere but it was not until I went through details of the Dorset Wildlife Trust reserves when we first moved here to Dorset some years ago that I spotted something called 'polypody' listed on some woodland reserve species lists. My curiosity aroused I read up about it and went looking for it.

There are three types of polypody fern; common, southern and intermediate (also called western) and they are quite difficult to tell apart when they are high up in a tree! As polypody ferns can also be found on walls and rocks it becomes a little easier as western and southern prefer walls so, up in trees, they are likely to be the common polypody (Polypodium vulgare). I am not absolutely certain whether southern polypody actually occurs in Dorset.

Polypody ferns are not rare, but they are certainly unusual. Keep an eye out for them if you are enjoying a woodland walk.