Being a tropical botanist, one of my favorite pastimes in New York has been to observe plants in their natural environment during winter. Here is Onoclea sensibilis, a fern that has several interesting adaptations to survive the cold and drying conditions of this season. The sterile leaves are thin and sensitive, quickly dying back after the first frost. Fertile leaves, however, are woody and tough, with segments tightly enrolled to protect the sori within (see pictures). Also note the forked, long-creeping rhizomes that were growing underground. I was surprised with all the fiddleheads and trophopods (enlarged and modified leaf bases filled with starch storage tissue). Despite being common in many deciduous ferns, trophopods are usually overlooked structures — even by botanists.
Collection Data (F.B. Matos & C. Matos 2395)
Classification & Common Names
- Class: Polypodiopsida
- Family: Onocleaceae
- Genus: Onoclea L.
- Species: Onoclea sensibilis L.
- Common name(s): Sensitive fern
General Collection Data
- Date: 19-I-2014
- Primary Collector & #: F.B. Matos & C. Matos 2395
- Collection Party:
- Det. History: F.B. Matos, I.2014
- Habitat: Deciduous forest
- Habit: Terrestrial
- Specimen Locations: NY, UPCB
- Location: Zofnass Family Preserve – Pound Ridge – Westchester County – New York – United States.
- Coordinates: 41.177500, -73.603611
- Elevation: 130 m