poetry and prose about place

making friends with the ferns #1

with 8 comments

November is an odd time to think about identifying ferns, I admit.  But identification of the evergreen ferns is still possible, as they hang on to their identity in the frosty air and even beneath the snow.  Also, ferns are so beautiful, it is fun just to look over the field guides and reminisce about the days of summer.

a pressed Long Beech Fern in my copy of Boughton Cobb’s ‘Field Guide to the Ferns’

Ferns belong to the group of vascular plants known as the Pteridophytes.  They have stems, roots and leaves but no seeds.  Instead, they reproduce by spores and have complicated life cycles.

Ferns grow in many habitats.  In our area they are found in moist and shaded woodlands.  They are also inhabitants of fields, cliffs, wetlands and cityscapes.   I have even seen ferns growing deep within the Howe Caverns of New York State where they have taken advantage of the scant habitat provided by artificial lighting.

The uniform ‘greenness’ of ferns and their highly patterned leaves make them popular as a motif, especially for home decorating and at Christmastime.

In New Brunswick, fiddleheads, the tightly coiled new leaves of the Ostrich fern (Matteuccia Struthiopteris (L.) Todaro), are collected for food every spring along the banks of rivers and their tributaries.


waking from a dream

                        Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia Struthiopteris(L.) Todaro)


bottom-land thicket

naked in spring

a rumpled bed

the throws of hibernation


new growth cocooned

in dry leaves, bent skeletons

of last summer’s fern


sun surge

an insult

between curtains


green fiddlehead


head down

fist thrust

between pillows and down

fingers stretched

filigreed shadow

new blocking of sun


brown coverlet



new green bedspread

new green canopy

green shade


© Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

November 9, 2011 at 6:48 am

8 Responses

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  1. Love your fiddlehead fern drawing. Our local food coop is named Fiddleheads. Growing up I loved all the ferns growing in the woods, especially down near the swamp.


    Barbara Rodgers

    November 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    • Thanks… I am starting to do some edible wild drawings and poems for a project I will be working on in the spring. The drawing was fun to do. Jane


      jane tims

      November 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm

  2. I, too, appreciate your drawing of the fiddlehead fern, and, as you noted, the highly patterned leaves of these plants. I’m also a lover of old books.

    Steve Schwartzman


    Steve Schwartzman

    November 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    • Hi Steve. Thanks for the comment. I have a few older books on wildflowers and I’ll post them on my ‘books’ page in the next few days. Thanks, Jane


      jane tims

      November 14, 2011 at 6:33 am

  3. Excellent work Jane. Your scanned fern with the b/w book is great. Might “steal” the idea for myself 🙂 … at least I’ll wait for a while before I do. Also like your drawing of fiddleheads…they always remind me of the movie Alien for some reason.

    In your poem you write new growth cocooned

    in dry leaves, bent skeletons

    of last summer’s fern I like how you put this verse together. Well done.




    November 9, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    • Hi Denis. I am always amazed at how well books scan and show the color of any pressed plants. I’d love to see what you can do with the technique. Thanks for the observations on my poem. I’m not certain about the Alien-fiddlehead connection… I’ll have to watch the movie again!!! Jane


      jane tims

      November 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm

  4. Very interesting Jane, love the sketches.
    Did you not do a presentation for the Kennebacasis Naturalist Society a few years ago?



    November 9, 2011 at 8:55 am

    • Hi Jim. It could have been me. I have worked with watershed groups for many years, and have given many presentations in the area. Small world! Jane


      jane tims

      November 9, 2011 at 8:36 pm

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