Home A - Z FAQ Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps About Search
Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management

Next: CryptogrammaContentsPrevious: Athyrium

Ferns of the Sierra (1960) by Robert J. Rodin


Small ferns usually with some form of glandular hairs or scales on their leaves. Bi- or tri-pinnate leaves in which the fertile and sterile pinnae look very much alike. Pinnules may be lobed or incised, are often minute and bead-like. Sori may be distinct or continuous around the margins, more or less covered by an extension of the membranous leaf margin which serves as an indusium.

These ferns usually grow in racks of rocks or on sandy, well drained hillsides, occasionally in seepage. Fronds curl up as the dry season continues and eventually die. The plants put forth new fronds when the rainy season comes, or following the melting of snows. Old fronds sometimes revive during rains.


Pinnae without hairs or scales

Sori distinct, short, moon-shaped, in notches C. californica
Sori continuous on each side of a segment C. siliquosa
Pinnae with hairs or scales on the underside
Sori not continuous around each segment; ultimate segments flat, glandular hairy on upper and lower surfaces C. cooperae
Sori continuous around each segment, segments beadlike
Underside covered with woolly hairs, segments mostly oval C. gracillima
Underside covered with membranous lanceolate scales, segments round C. covilei

Fig. 15 CALIFORNIA LACE FERN (Cheilanthes californica)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 15 CALIFORNIA LACE FERN (Cheilanthes californica). Left: Growing in cracks of rocks where moisture is available to roots. Right: Sori in notches of deeply lobed or incised leaf.

Fig. 16 INDIAN’S DREAM (Cheilanthes siliquosa)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 16 INDIAN’S DREAM (Cheilanthes siliquosa). Upper: Dense clumps form when soil and water conditions are satisfactory. Lower: Details of one frond. Insert: Enlargement of segments to show details of sori.

Fig 17 COOPER FERN (Cheilanthes cooperae)
[click to enlarge]

Fig 17 Above: COOPER FERN (Cheilanthes cooperae). Upper: Two fronds and condensed stem. Lower: Enlarged view of lobed hairy pinnae.

Fig. 18 BEAD FERN (Cheilanthes covillei)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 18 Right: BEAD FERN (Cheilanthes covillei). Commonly grows in cracks of rocks in dry places. Fronds curl in late summer.


Cheilanthes californica (Nutt.) Mett. (Fig. 15)

Plants 6 to 12 inches high, all of the short rhizomes covered with dark scales with pale borders. Pinnae notched with sori occurring at ends of veinlets in the notches. Indusium formed by the leaf margin, roundish to moon-shaped. Pinnae bright green and glabrous.

Found in rocky crevices near moisture, particularly common on talus slopes at the base of cliffs, often in shady places. Occasionally collected in the Sierra foothills south of Butte County between 2,000 and 4,000 feet elevation. It is known from the Arch Rock area and Cascade Creek in Yosemite, and in the hills below Sequoia National Park.


Cheilanthes siliquosa Maxon (Fig. 16)

Pellaea densa

Dense clusters of fronds 4 to 7 inches high arise from branched rhizomes. The slender shiny stalks reddish-brown in color, fronds triangular in outline, tri-pinnate, at least at the base, hi-pinnate on the remainder of the frond. Segments of pinnae about 1/4 inch long, varying from linear to nearly triangular in shape, normally coming to a point at both ends.

Found in exposed rocky places where the roots have access to moisture. Although not common in the Sierra, this species is widespread occurring from Sequoia National Park above Reflection Lake and Black Rock Pass northward into Oregon from 5,000 to 8,500 feet elevation. It has been observed in Yosemite beside many trails leading out of the valley as well as along the Crane Flat Road near the tunnels. It is also known in the Coast Range, and east to Montana, Wyoming, and eastern Canada, and from British Columbia.


Cheilanthes cooperae D. C. Eat. (Fig. 17)

Dense clusters of fronds, 3 to 12 inches high, pinnae hairy and sometimes glandular, stalks dark brown, fronds oblong-lanceolate, bi-pinnate, each pinnule oblong, notched or incised, 1/8 to 1/4 inch long.

Fig. 19 BEAD FERN (Cheilanthes covillei)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 19 BEAD FERN (Cheilanthes covillei). Lower side of two fronds to show variation at one locality. Insert: Top view of bead-like segments.

Not common, occurring occasionally in cracks of limestone cliffs and rocky places in the Sierra Nevada foothills below 2,500 feet elevation. This fern is known from Hites Cove, Mariposa County, and in a few scattered locations from Eldorado County south into Mexico.


Cheilanthes covillei Maxon (Fig. 18, 19)

Plants 2 to 8 inches high, 1 1/2 inches wide at base or less, tri- or quadri-pinnate. Top of fronds green without hairs or scales, lower side: and stalk covered with chaffy scales white on young fronds, brown or older ones. Sori marginal on bead-like segments, nearly obscured by the scales. This species closely resembles C. gracillima in general appearance.

This species is also known as Coville’s Lip Fern. Found on rocky dry ridges, slopes and on peaks. Widely distributed in the Sierra from 2,500 to 6,500 feet elevation as well as in desert areas of southern California, in Arizona and Nevada,

Fig. 20 LACE FERN (Cheilanthes gracillima)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 20 LACE FERN (Cheilanthes gracillima) Found in cracks of rocks in very dry places.

Utah and Lower California. It has been observed in Yosemite Valley at localities on the talus slope, on the south side of the valley near the western boundary of the park.


Cheilanthes gracillima D. C. Eat. (Fig. 20, 21)

Clustars of fronds 2 to 8 inches high arise from a single much-branched rhizome, the latter covered with brown papery scales. Stalks without hairs or scales, reddish-brown in color. Bi-pinnate fronds glabrous above, woolly beneath with leaf margins rolled to cover marginal sori. Pinnules more or less oval to linear, frequently with slight lobing, particularly the basal ones of each branch, which may be unevenly lobed.

Distributed in the Sierra from Sequoia to Lassen Volcanic National Parks, ranging from 2,500 to 6,000 feet elevation and is also known from the North Coast Ranges to Idaho and British Columbia. It may be observed in Yosemite along trails leading from Yosemite Valley, including the trail to Merced Lake near Nevada Falls.

Fig. 21 LACE FERN (Cheilanthes gracillima)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 21 LACE FERN (Cheilanthes gracillima). Upper: One rhizome with several fronds. Lower: Upper side of one frond.

Next: CryptogrammaContentsPrevious: Athyrium

Home A - Z FAQ Online Library Discussion Forum Muir Weather Maps About Search
Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management