Friday 29 August 2014

Some help with ferns

Looking at Asplenium adiantum-nigrum
Image: M. Godfrey
Martin Godfrey (Staffs.) has been in touch to tell us about a fern ID training session he led recently. He said "On Wednesday 27th August, I went out with a group of Kate Thorne's VC47 recorders and folks from the Montgomeryshire Natural History Society to give them a fern ID training session.  

"Our site was Roundton Hill on the borders with Shropshire - geologically complicated with some nice rock exposures to add to grassland and damp woodland.  

"There wasn't a huge variety of species at the site but they were able to see several species of Asplenium and both Polystichum as well as making an aquaintance with some of those pesky members of the Dryopteris "affinis" complex.  

Sorting out Polypodium cambricum
Image: M. Godfrey
"We were very pleased to refind an old site for Polypodium cambricum - a bit early but it did mean that they could see the difference between that and P. vulgare.  Another nice treat was a patch of Ceterach - unusual here on natural substrates.  

"Sessions like this are quite important I think - it's not so much that people cannot identify things, rather that they feel under-confident in their own abilities and a bit of encouragement and confirmation that they can do it can only improve records for this oddly under-recorded group". 

I agree, going out botanising with somebody who has a little bit more experience in the field, and can pass on their knowledge, makes you feel much more confident about what your plant is the next time you see it. Keep up the good work Martin! 

And a final photograph shows how, even during a fern ID session, a botanist just cannot help but be drawn to any difficult plant spotted en route...

The County Recorder cannot resist Hieracium
Image: M. Godfrey

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