Here is a quick guide to the top 9 ferns you are likely to spot whilst on your next nature walk.
Personally I love ferns but there are so many and they do look alike which makes them super hard to identify so when I saw this guide in one of my countryfile magazines I had to share it…firstly though to better aid you and help you to identify ferns look at the diagrams below.
1. Maidenhair Spleen wort; growing in mortared crevices on shady walls, even in urban areas, this lime-lover has dainty fronds and lack stems with upto 40 opposite pairs of leaflets.
2. Harts tongue; the only british fern with undivided fronds has glossy, tapering, evergreen leaves. Look for spore cases arranged in parallel rows of slits on the underside.
3. Hard fern; each plant has two leaf types, outer, comb shaped fronds are evergreen and inner reproductive fronds have narrow lobes and die in winter. You will find it on heaths, moors and conifer woods.
4. Male fern: common in woodlands this fern has upto 30 main lobes, with the longest in the middle of the frond, divided into toothed smaller lobes. Spore cases have a kidney-shaped cover.
5. Polypody; evergreen flat fronds have clusters of golden spore cases under the lobes. Its creeping stems thread through dry-stone walls, rocky hedge banks and under mosses.
6. Parsley fern; Fronds have wedge-shaped leaflets, resembling parsley, growing in bunches from tips of creeping stems. You will find this on rocky screes, mountains and walls in Wales and lakes.
7. Lady fern; its graceful, feathery fronds droop at the tip, with lobes divided into smaller toothed lobes. Its lower stalk is grooved and clothed in brown scales. It is found in damp, shady woods.
8. Royal fern; a declining species of fern found in wet places, it has fronds upto six feet long, some with brown spore cases at their tip. Stems have up to nine branches, bearing oblong leaflets.
9. Bracken; a tall woodland species, invading moors and low-grade agricultural land. Unfurling new fronds, rising from an underground stem, are initially clothed in soft brown hairs.
Happy fern spotting. ☘🌿🍃