If you walk through the enchanting development known as the “memory plaza” you may spot a wide variety of vascular plants that lack seeds and flowers. These little plants are known as ferns, and come in many shapes and sizes! Not only do ferns lack seeds and flowers – but they also reproduce via spores. One specific species showcases this fact more boldly than the rest. And which species of fern am I referring to? Why, the interrupted fern, Osmunda claytoniana, of course!

Interrupted Ferns at Monk Botanical Gardens

The interrupted fern is especially fascinating because pieces of the plant appear dead … intentionally. The little “interruptions” found in the middle of the frond are caused by the middle leaflets called pinnae. These are the spore-bearing leaflets that grow to be the longest on the frond, and they wither away and fall off midsummer after producing fertile spores. The leaflets above and below the interruption are sterile and have no effect on reproduction for the plants.

Interrupted Ferns at Monk Botanical Gardens

So next time you see an interrupted fern, remember: it’s supposed to look like that, everything will be okay, go make yourself some tea and have a lovely day.

fern spore-bearing leaflets called pinnae

Written by Horticulture Intern, Anna Novak


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