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What’s This? No. 19
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My What’s This? challenge returns with these oddities from southeastern Michigan on 3 June 2014. The first to name them wins prestige and $5 off any of my outings or workshops. Enter in the comments section below.
Tomorrow I’ll post the winner and responses from other folks who got it right.
Find my 18 other What’s This? challenges here.
Added June 5: We have a winner!
Skilled field naturalist and artist Susan Sawyer was first to identify these as the fertile fronds of Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) and Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis), side by side in wet woods at Proud Lake Recreation Area in southeastern Michigan.
Their third close relative, Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana), which prefers drier soils, was not to be found. You can see a bit of each plant’s sterile fronds below, particularly Royal’s distinctive, broadly pinnate fronds.
All three species bear spore-producing parts on separate fronds. In other ferns, like the Braun’s Holly Fern further below, the spores mature on the underside of fronds.
In that final photos, each of those dots in the array is called a sorus (plural sori). In each sorus is a clusters of capsules that produce spores. We call each capsule a sporangium (plural sporangia).
In any event, if you guessed millet or amaranth or some other grain, you’re not alone. I got a few of those. Along with Susan, you’ll find other correct answers in the comments section. Onward to the sporosphere!