The event started at the Milking Parlour at Place Farm with a short talk to introduce us to the various types of fern we might encounter on our walk. Paul had brought several fronds with him to aid our identification and he also gave us a brief history of these long-lived plants. Fascinating to learn that the fossil ferns to be found on our local coastline are virtually identical to some of today’s living specimens!
We then set out, suitably equipped with lenses and notebooks, to search for ferns in the Nature Reserve, our ultimate destination being Fairlight Glen which is renowned for the diversity of ferns to be found there. Our first stop along Barley Lane was to take a close look at the bracken (Pteridum aquilinum) growing along the lane edges. Our walk then took us down into Fairlight Glen where we were able to identify a variety of ferns from the beautiful Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) to the Common Polypody (Polypodium sp.) spotted growing high up on the branches of a large oak tree.
On our return to the Milking Parlour we were able to see the spore ‘print’ left by a frond of a perfectly ripe Broad Buckler Fern (Dryopteris dilitata). Paul was then warmly thanked for both his enthusiasm and erudition and the general consensus was that a return visit next year would be most welcome.
A fuller report on this event including information on all the ferns observed during our walk will appear in the next issue of The Volunteer.
For further information about ferns in general, including identification guides, do look at the website of the British Pteridological Society: www.eBPS.org.uk