Upland Pine, Blackwater River State Forest. Photo by Gary Knight

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Noteworthy Discoveries: Hand Fern in Hendry County

During recent field surveys to document rare plants at Dinner Island Wildlife Management Area, FNAI botanists located two populations of hand fern (Ophioglossum palmatum), a distinctive epiphytic fern that grows almost exclusively in the humus that accumulates in cabbage palm leaf bases, commonly called “boots.”  Although these ferns are found in tropics around the world, they are believed to have experienced a dramatic decline in Florida over the last century due to artificial drainage, particularly in the Everglades.   According to the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, hand fern has never been collected in Hendry County, so FNAI scientists were excited to discover these populations.
Hand fern (Ophioglossum palmatum).   Photo by James Surdick

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