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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!

07 February, 2014

Maidenhair spleenwort: somewhat off the wall

Maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes) is a charming little plant with a rather unusual name. Spleenworts are members of the fern family with special structural characteristics. They do not usually grow in the ground like many other plants, instead preferring rocky or wooden substrates. Many spleenworts are found in fairly unique places like crevices in rocks on mountain sides and
are quite hard to find but the maidenhair spleenwort is widespread and can be found on walls and rocks virtually anywhere. Bridges and garden walls are the usual places to find them but this one was on the disused platform at Wareham Station.
They are not difficult to identify as they are small plants, have a typical fern-like appearance, and have a distinctive black central stem off of which the 'leaves' form alternately, left then right.

I cannot find where the name originates from but presumably spleenworts were considered to be beneficial to the spleen if eaten, this may or may not be true and I do not suggest you try it to see!
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