Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Delicate Beauty

Tunbridge Filmy Fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense)
Hiding among the moss, blending in to such an extent that it can be easily mistaken for one of them, the Tunbridge Filmy Fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense) has a diaphanous magnificence. It grows in shady habitats, forming a mat when growing, either vertically or at an incline, against rocks or tree trunks by streams or under dripping water (1). It has numerous, overlapping leaves which have multiple pinnae. These arise from slender rhizomes which are much-branched (2). Tunbridge Filmy Fern is very similar in appearance to Wilson's Filmy Fern (H. wilsonii), but both are found at different elevations: Wilson'd Filmy Fern tends to be found on mountain tops, while Tunbridge Filmy Fern inhabits lowland or slightly elevated wooded glens (3). This difference in locality is due in part to the different light requirements for the two species, with Tunbridge Filmy Fern having a lower light requirement than Wilson's Filmy Fern (4). Tunbridge Filmy Ferns is a very long lived species, with some colonies being 200 years old.
Tunbridge Filmy Fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense)
  1. Phillips, 1980 Grasses, Ferns, Mosses and Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland p. 108
  2. Richards and Evans, 1958 Journal of Ecology p. 245
  3. O'Mahony, 2009 Wildflowers of Cork City and County p. 323
  4. Proctor , 2003 Annals of Botany 91 pp. 717-727

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