Dec 01 2009
Welcome to the Christmas month.
When you take a walk in December’s woods you’ll find very little green except for this plant, the Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides, so named because it’s green during the holidays.
Christmas fern is a common, evergreen, perennial fern that grows in the woods in most of eastern North America. It’s one of the few ferns I can recognize because its leaflets are shaped like Christmas socks or like Santa’s sleigh. (To see the sleigh shape turn the leaflet sideways with the “thumb” pointing up.) From afar the plant looks like a clump growing in well-drained rich soil.
People used to use this fern in Christmas decorations, though I must say I prefer pine for its Christmas-y smell.
Keep your eyes open for this splash of green. It brightens December’s short days.
(photos by Dianne Machesney)