This morning’s eagerly anticipated announcement of the Chambers’ botanical quiz winner ended three weeks of intense suspense and speculation. For many, however, suspense turned quickly to disappointment, suspicion and anger as crowds gathered about the home of Calvin F Gatch Jr, burning the Iowa Farmers Association flag to keep themselves warm in the midst of the Midwest’s blackberry winter. Mr Gatch, the declared winner, had not ventured from his compound for two weeks when, after several abortive incorrect entries, he stumbled upon the correct answer – the Bead Fern, known better by most of us as Onoclea sensibilis. Here is what we know about this specimen (the fern, not Mr Gatch):
Sensitive Fern (Bead Fern)
Sensitive fern gets its name from the tendency of the fronds to wither at the first slight frost.
â€¢ Family: Dryopteridaceae
â€¢ Habitat: wet meadows and woods, swamps, streambanks; usually in slightly acidic soil
â€¢ Height: 18-24 inches
â€¢ Location of spores: on separate fertile fronds, within bead-like modified leaflets
â€¢ Stipe (leaf stalk): yellow or pale tan, dark brown at the base with a few scales
â€¢ Growth pattern: random
â€¢ Persistence: deciduous
Here is a photo of a stand of these ferns which up till now we did not know we had here at Moone Athy
Alas, the location of this stand, at the base of a north-facing slope at the edge of a newly planted wood, has not as yet been correctly identified by any contestant, so no prize can be awarded – Quam tristis et afflictus! – as Spiro Agnew used to say.
The Clan offers its reluctant and perfunctory congratulations to Mr Gatch and hopes that the clean-up at his compound goes uneventfully.
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