We went on a field trip this week to Deep Woods Preserve in SE Ohio! I love the woods! We saw many lovely plants, some of which are below.
Above is the dimorphic sensitive fern, Onoclea sensibilis! Dimorphism means the plant has two different morphological structures; in this case, one is the fertile fronds of the plant (right), and the other part is the sterile fronds (left). This fern was found in its choice habitat, a slightly swampy forest. Sensitive fern is very sensitive to frost and will turn black even with the smallest frost.
New York Fern
These ferns are monomorphic, having one type of frond with its sori on the bottom of the leaves (right). New York fern also prefers moist and acidic soils. Colonies of this plant may form on occasion.
Ohio’s geology has been greatly shaped by recent glaciation. Eastern Ohio was not glaciated due to the steep sandstone hills, but most of the rest of Ohio was. Western Ohio has limestone soils and is very flat from erosion. Western soils are generally alkaline (limey), have poor drainage and aeration due to clay content, and high nutrient availability. Eastern soils are more acidic, nutrient poor, and have better drainage and aeration.
The following plants are all acidophiles. They love the acidic soils characteristic of Eastern Ohio.
When at Deep Woods, we saw the Appalachian gametophyte growing on a well decomposed tree stump. It was shady and on the edge of a creek. The Appalachian gametophyte is a fern that only exists in the gametophyte stage, hence its name. To describe the origin of the Appalachian gametophyte:
The Appalachian gametophyte exists within the grass fern (Vittaria graminifolia) species. It has 120 chromosomes, while grass fern may have 120 or 60 chromosomes. If the Appalachian gametophyte is more closely related to the grass fern with 120 chromosomes, divergent evolution probably occurred. If it is more closely related to the grass fern with 60 chromosomes, genome duplication of a grass fern is what likely occurred.
The Appalachian gametophyte is not the gametophyte of Vittaria lineata, as is mis-stated in “Flora of West Virginia.”