Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina
Polypodiaceae – Fern family
“Athyrium” means “without a shield” referring to the covering or more precisely the lack thereof, of the spore clusters. The delicate fronds (“filix” perhaps derived from the Latin tern for “thread”) may be considered dainty or lady-like (“femina”), giving rise to the hyphenated specific name.
With its relatively soft, fragile fronds, the lady fern is more demanding of moisture than the sword fern. The lady fern is found in favorably moist forest soil or along stream banks. In the spring, lady fern sends out a refreshing flush of delicate light green fronds several feet in length. The fronds taper at each end, a distinguishing feature when compared to fronds of other ferns. The fronds are deciduous, sometimes withering away by summer’s drought. The stem rests through the winter to begin the cycle anew in spring. Erna Gunther relates that several Northwest Native groups used the peeled and roasted stems for food. The soft fronds were used to cover camas during baking, a tea made from boiled stems was drunk to “ease body pains,” and pounded and boiled stems were used to ease the pain of childbirth (5-32).
Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR