Ferns and Lycophytes of Muddy Run

After finishing work with Morgan on the morning of the 15th, I decided to turn northward along the Susquehanna to look for a different set of ferns. The mica-schist ranges of the River Hills provide dry, acid rock crevices, judiciously fed by seepage permeating through the outcrops, which favor Asplenium montanum and its allopolyploid descendants A. bradleyi and A. pinnatifidum. In the early 20th century, the hybrid A. × gravesii (A. bradleyi × pinnatifidum) was several times reported, but A. bradleyi itself is pretty hard to find these days. I know of some good spleenwort sites on local preserves, such as Kelly's Run and Tucquan Glen, but I also wanted to seek out some less-visited areas that might still harbor undiscovered treasures.

First, I checked on a known locality on the York County side of the river; a fallen tree made it tricky to access part of the site, but A. pinnatifidum and its backcross with A. montanum, A. × trudellii, were still occupying their familiar ledges, together with the usual tufts of A. montanum tucked into dry ledges and an A. platyneuron above in the woods.

From there, I headed up the river to visit the Muddy Run Wildlife Management Area. Muddy Run, a historic locality for spleenworts, has been dammed to form a pumped storage reservoir. However, the valley below the reservoir is not only preserved, but publicly accessible.

My initial foray down-valley seemed disappointing. Unlike the narrow gorges at Tucquan Glen or Benton Hollow, there didn't seem to be much outcrop in the hillsides. Ferns were the pretty standard woodland ones of the area; I didn't find marginal wood fern, a common haunter of rocky hillsides, until much further downvalley, testifying to the deeper soils.

As I bushwhacked around on the steep slopes downvalley, trying to avoid bouncing several hundred feet downhill onto the Port Road, outcrops and a xeric, acid forest began to reveal themselves. The reptiles were out in force, a box turtle and garter snake making their appearance. After photographing a chestnut stump sprout near a large outcropping, I tracked down some A. montanum in its crevices. There wasn't much else around...until I found a smaller outcrop nearby that was hosting a nice small colony of A. pinnatifidum. Dutifully crossing a valley and inspecting some more outcrops, I finally found the real prize of the day: a new station for A. bradleyi. It was probably known to the old-timers, but not reported anytime recently. Sadly, I didn't see any little plantlets around it; just an evergreen tuft clinging to its little niche in the schist. Still, it's always thrilling to be able to report another example of this rare fern.

Posted by choess choess, July 21, 2018 23:16

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Mountain Spleenwort Asplenium montanum

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 01:15 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Lobed Spleenwort Asplenium pinnatifidum

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 01:16 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Trudell's Spleenwort Asplenium × trudellii

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 01:24 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Ebony Spleenwort Asplenium platyneuron

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 01:49 PM EDT

Photos / Sounds

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What

Hay-scented Fern Dennstaedtia punctilobula

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 02:50 PM EDT

Description

Hay-scented fern.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Flat-branched Tree-Clubmoss Dendrolycopodium obscurum

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 02:50 PM EDT

Description

Flat-branched tree clubmoss.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Rattlesnake Fern Botrypus virginianus

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 02:50 PM EDT

Description

Rattlesnake fern.

Photos / Sounds

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New York Fern Parathelypteris noveboracensis

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 02:50 PM EDT

Description

New York fern.

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Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 02:51 PM EDT

Description

Christmas fern.

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Intermediate Wood Fern Dryopteris intermedia

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 02:54 PM EDT

Description

Intermediate wood fern.

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Spinulose Wood Fern Dryopteris carthusiana

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 02:56 PM EDT

Description

Spinulose wood fern.

Photos / Sounds

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Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 02:57 PM EDT

Description

Lady fern.

Photos / Sounds

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Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene carolina ssp. carolina

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 03:09 PM EDT

Description

Box turtle.

Photos / Sounds

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Eastern Garter Snake Thamnophis sirtalis ssp. sirtalis

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 03:17 PM EDT

Description

Garter snake.

Photos / Sounds

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What

American Chestnut Castanea dentata

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 03:27 PM EDT

Description

American chestnut root sprout.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Mountain Spleenwort Asplenium montanum

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 03:31 PM EDT

Description

Mountain spleenwort.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Mountain Spleenwort Asplenium montanum

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 03:40 PM EDT

Description

Mountain spleenwort.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Mountain Spleenwort Asplenium montanum

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 03:40 PM EDT

Description

Mountain spleenwort. I think the large sterile frond is still the same species.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Ghost Pipes Monotropa uniflora

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 03:44 PM EDT

Description

Indian pipe.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Lobed Spleenwort Asplenium pinnatifidum

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 03:57 PM EDT

Description

Lobed spleenwort. A few small fronds out of picture to left.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Marginal Wood Fern Dryopteris marginalis

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 04:01 PM EDT

Description

Marginal wood fern.

Photos / Sounds

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Rock Polypody Polypodium virginianum

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 04:05 PM EDT

Description

Rock polypody.

Photos / Sounds

What

Bradley's Spleenwort Asplenium bradleyi

Observer

choess

Date

June 15, 2018 04:07 PM EDT

Description

Bradley's spleenwort.

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