Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ebony Spleenwort On The Rocks

I have something in common with the Ebony Spleenwort... we both enjoy rocky outcrops.
Perhaps that is one reason I found quite a few of the Ebony Spleenworts growing on this sandstone outcrop on Shale Ridge.
Ebony Spleenwort - Asplenium platyneuron on a rock outcrop
  I framed this photo of an Ebony Spleenwort to include some interesting background, like the long, purple Appalachian ridge with some light green of the farm fields in the valley showing through the trees on the left beyond the rock outcrop. This picture really fascinates me... maybe because there is more in the frame to appreciate than meets the eye.  I'll elaborate on some of these notable things with a few posts. First, I'll focus on the Ebony Spleenwort.
Ebony Spleenwort - Asplenium platyneuron
This is a small, evergreen fern... notice its size compared with the moss.
In the picture below, a couple of acorn caps (to the right and above the fern) give it some scale.
The fern grows a rosette of sterile fronds close to the ground as well as some fertile fronds which are more erect.  The fertile fronds somewhat resemble the Christmas Fern in my last post.
Ebony Spleenwort
This interesting growth habit is displayed in the picture above, which was taken on Shale Ridge in central Pennsylvania.     The two different kinds of fronds are also shown below, in this photo of an Ebony Spleenwort growing on a rock cliff face.  I snapped this picture while on a ramble on a boys camp in Ohio.
It is such a lovely little fern... wouldn't it be nice to grow some in a terrarium or winter garden?  Along with some of its moss companions?
Anyway, back to some identifying features of the Ebony Spleenwort.  It has alternating, eared leaflets (pinnae) similar to the Christmas Fern
It also has a dark, glossy brown stalk.
The sori, or fruitdots, look like this...

The Ebony Spleenwort is just one of the many notable things in this snapshot of a small spot in the big, wide world.
Next post, I'll focus on the rock outcrop there in the background.


  1. Dana, a lovely post. I went for a walk in my woodsy/bog yesterday. The vibrant greens of the mosses and ferns, belie the myth that winter is a dull time.

    I'm curious about the nearby moss (in your first shot) with the stalks and knobby heads.

    Happy 2012. Sybil

  2. Sybil,
    Thanks for commenting. Happy new year to you.
    The moss would make great post material, eh? I'm hoping to post on it soon (perhaps I have a bit of a one-track mind).