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


POLYPODIUM
Polypody

Small ferns with spreading rhizomes and glabrous deeply lobed or pinnate fronds. One row of sori is located on each side of the midrib of the pinna or lobe and no indusium is found in this genus. The rhizomes usually are found in cracks of rocks or form mats covering rocks or imbedded in soil or moss.

Rhizomes of these ferns have long been enjoyed by the Indians of California both raw and roasted as a confection. Some species are reported to have medicinal value.

KEY TO THE VARIETIES:

Pinnately compound fronds with sharp incisions between compact pinnae, from sea level to 4,000 feet elevation P. vulgare var. kaulfussii
Pinnately lobed simple frond with broad spacing between pinnae, from 5,000 to 8,000 feet elevation P. vulgare var. columbianum

LICORICE FERN

Polypodium vulgare L. var. kaulfussii (D. C. Eat.) Fernald (Fig. 37)

P. californicum
P. vulgare var. intermedium

Slender fronds 2 to 18 inches high arise from rhizomes covered with papery brown scales. Membranous fronds which appear pinnately compound with considerable variation in shape and margins from long slender lobes to short, stout ones, margins toothed or not. Circular distinct sori 1/8 inch broad or sometimes larger. Sori yellow when very young, soon turning brown. The fronds grow erect, but sometimes droop.

Found on banks of canyons or in cracks of rocks, often where there is some seepage, in Sierra Nevada foothills from Butte to Fresno Counties, usually below 4,000 feet elevation, and coastal California. This species grows near the base of Yosemite and Cascade Falls in Yosemite, growing in cracks of rocks in spray from the falls. The fronds die down when the falls and their spray decrease in volume, then plants remain dormant until the following spring. This variety is distributed from central California to Lower California.

Fig. 37 LICORICE FERN (Polypodium vulgare var. kaulfussii)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 37 Right: LICORICE FERN (Polypodium vulgare var. kaulfussii). Habitat view and close-up for details.

Fig. 38 GOLDEN POLYPODY (Polypodium vulgare var. columbianum)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 38 GOLDEN POLYPODY (Polypodium vulgare var. columbianum). Growing in seepage under a granite ledge so that direct sunlight never reaches the plant.

GOLDEN POLYPODY

Polypodium vulgare var. columbianum Gilbert (Fig. 38, 39)

P. hesperium
P. virginianum L. as given by Jepson is a mis-identification.

Plants 4 to 14 inches high from a rhizome similar to the preceding variety. Fronds pendent, somewhat leathery, pinnate lobes with considerable spacing, sort golden colored when young, from whence the plant receives its common name.

Known from the central Sierra region from 5,000 to 8,000 feet elevation. It is not common and has been collected by this author only behind Strawberry Lake, Tuolumne County, at 6,000 feet elevation. This variety was first observed there nineteen years ago. The fern grows under a granite ledge, entirely shaded from direct sunlight and in constant seepage. It has not spread to other places in the intervening time. It is an evergreen when grown in cultivation. The known distribution extends from British Columbia to southern California and into South Dakota.

Fig. 39 GOLDEN POLYPODY (Polypodium vulgare var. columbianum)
[click to enlarge]

Fig. 39 GOLDEN POLYPODY (Polypodium vulgare var. columbianum). Left: Portion of a rhizome and upper side of attached front. Right: Lower side of one frond with naked sori. Some fronds have sori on all lobes.



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