Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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A common fern of wet places - floodplains, wet flatwoods, acid swamps, bogs and marshes - throughout most of Florida. The range includes eastern North America, west into Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota, and into Canada as far north as Ontario, Quebec and Labrador.
This fern is unmistakable in the spring and early summer when the fertile fronds are present. The fertile fronds lack leafy pinnae and are called fiddleheads. The fiddleheads are green at first, then become mostly cinnamon colored or brownish, reaching or exceeding the height of the sterile fronds. The fertile blades are up to 45 cm (18 in.) long with strongly ascending pinnae that contain copious masses of brownish sporangia.
Sterile fronds are pale green and fairly large, sometimes growing in dense tufts. The petiole is 10-45 cm (4-18 in.) long, grooved, straw colored and sometimes greenish, covered with reddish-brown wooly hairs when new. The rachis is similar, but more greenish, and becoming nearly hairless with age. The blade of the sterile fronds are pinnate-pinnatifid, 30-120 cm (12-47 in.) long and up to 30 cm (12 in.) wide. The overall outline is elliptic, with 15 to 25 pairs of pinnae, the lower side of the base of each pinna has a conspicuous tuft of reddish-brown hairs. This tuft of hairs help to distinguish cinnamon fern from Virginia chain fern when fertile fronds are absent. The sterile pinnae are lobed, with a lanceolate overall shape and are alternate on the rachis.