Christmas fern Facts

Christmas fern Facts
Christmas fern belongs to the group Pteridophyta (vascular plants that do not produce flowers and seed). It originates from North America, where it is widely spread and abundant. Christmas fern inhabits riverbanks, ravines, woodlands and hillsides. It grows in the partial shade, in areas that provide enough moisture. Typical forest grazers (such as deer) do not like to eat Christmas fern because of its specific chemical composition. As a result, Christmas fern can easily occupy new areas and prevent growth of other plants. People cultivate Christmas fern in their gardens as ornamental plant and/or use leaves of this fern in decorative purposes.
Interesting Christmas fern Facts:
Christmas fern is an evergreen plant that can reach 2 feet in height. It grows in large colonies or more commonly, in groups of two to three individual plants.
Stem of Christmas fern is short, scaly, woody at the base and green on the top.
Christmas fern develops around 20 leaves better known as fronds. Leaves are semi-erect before the first frost which pushes them toward the ground.
Christmas fern has dark green, leathery, pinnate leaves. Each leaf consists of 20 to 35 pairs of lance-shaped leaflets with pointed tips.
Christmas fern produces fertile (with reproductive structures) or sterile (without reproductive structures) leaves. Sterile leaves are shorter and located on the periphery, around centrally positioned fertile leaves.
Upper leaflets on the fertile fronds are smaller. They bear sporangia, organ which produces spores.
Life cycle of Christmas fern consists of two morphologically different generations: sporophyte and gametophyte. Sporophyte generation produces spores, miniature reproductive units. They give rise to development of gametophyte generation. Gametophyte produces male and female reproductive cells: sperms and ova. Fusion of these two types of cells gives rise to next sporophyte generation.
Sporophyte generation is what we know as Christmas fern. Gametophyte generation is much smaller, inconspicuous plant.
Production of spores lasts from the June to October, when temperature and amount of moisture are optimal.
Christmas fern can also reproduce via division of the rhizome. Daughter plants are coiled and called fiddleheads. They can be seen during the spring.
Evergreen leaves of Christmas fern can be found all year round, including the period of Christmas. They are often used in decorative purposes, especially for the production of Christmas wreaths, hence the name - "Christmas fern".
Christmas fern is used for the erosion control. It grows on the slopes and creates dense pile of decaying leaves that play important role in stabilization of the soil beneath them.
Stack of leaves of Christmas fern is also used as shelter or ideal nesting site for the ground dwelling birds such as wild turkey.
Christmas fern is important source of food for the caterpillars of some butterfly species.
Christmas fern is perennial plant (life span: over 2 years).


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