Tag Archives: ferns

Weekly Puzzler Answer #154

Hello and Happy Saturday! Happy July! Also happy 4th of July weekend! I hope you are having a great weekend filled with lots of memorable events. Were you one of the ones who recognized the fern in last week’s puzzler as MAIDENHAIR fern? Have you seen this in a forest near you?

Maidenhair ferns can be found in forests along the east coast. With their distinctive black stems and delicate, fan-shaped fronds, they are hard to miss. These ferns spread by rhizomes and spores, which they produce in spring and summer. Worldwide there are more than 20,000 species of ferns!

Also something I learned when doing research for this post is that there is a southern and a northern maidenhair fern. Here are some photos of each. Can you see the differences?

Southern maidenhair fern

Southern maidenhair fern



Northern maidenhair fern

Northern maidenhair fern

Interestingly, just because you find a maidenhair fern in the south doesn’t mean it’s a southern maidenhair fern! Southern maidenhair ferns can grow in the northern states and northern maidenhair ferns can be found in the south! Go figure. Talk about confusing!

So here is our next puzzler–another one about an interesting plant.

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #90

puzzle-6134Have you seen this forest ground cover? Did you identify it as a type of fan clubmoss? It has many common names, many of those that are regionally specific. These include running cedar, ground cedar, southern running pine, ground pine, creeping cedar, Christmas green, running pine, creeping jenny, and crowsfoot. The latin name of this clubmoss is Diphasiastrum digitatum. 

This plant is not a kind of cedar, nor it is a kind of moss, making both names not very accurate. It is more closely related to ferns, which like clubmosses reproduce through spores, not seeds.

cedar-Running cedar spreads through underground rhizomes (subterranean stems)  and in some places can create dense monocultures. Like evergreen trees, it stays green all year, and was once a popular Christmas decoration to be used in greenery.  It is a slow growing plant and extremely difficult to transplant, which is why in some areas it has become rare.

It grows up to 4 inches tall and in the summer, sends up tall reproductive structures called strobill. These bear spores for reproducing.

Clubmosses are among the most ancient of all land plants, having been around for 400 million years! 400 million! Can you imagine? They were on Earth even BEFORE the dinosaurs! These days they can be found in coniferous to mixed deciduous forests.

Have you seen it in a forest near you?


Check out the next puzzler HERE.

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