Ferns are delicate, easy to overlook, non-flowering, often avoided – and many of them are critically rare. They can be daunting to learn, but in time they are easily recognized by habitat, substrate, color, texture, size, etc. The point of this posting is simply to draw your attention to the beauty, intricacy, similarity and differences of ferns rather than go through the litany of ferns you will see in the Blue Ridge, Foothills, and eastern US.
The first five photographs (above) feature single-leaf ferns that emerge from a single point, compared to rosette-forming ferns in the second five photos (below). Each photo is captioned, but in the 1st and 2nd photos in each set are species that look nearly identical and typically confused with each other. The last (right) photos on each row show single-leaf and rosette-forming ferns that are fairly unmistakable.
These are just a few of the numerous ferns that comprise the stunning species richness and biodiversity of plants in the eastern US. Many of these species can be found on just a few acres of forest in even urban areas. With time and interest, you can identify 20, 30, 40 or more unique species – each having their own habitat requirements and features. Many of them are easily visible year round as false-evergreens that add great color to the winter forest forest. Ferns: