Osmunda spectabilis, the American royal fern;
Lake county, Florida (11 March 2023).
Spring Break 2023
Though I’m mostly ignorant of their evolutionary biology, I’m fascinated by ferns when I stop to look at them more closely. Fern-like growth dates back to around 390 million years ago or so, give or take, but fern really sprang to life during the Mesozoic. By the Cretaceous Period, the final act of the non-avian dinosaurs, ferns as we know them today were largely present and ready for action. They’ve been doing this dance a lot longer than we have. As for this species, the American royal fern, it ranges across most of the eastern portion of the United States and even the southern reaches of Canada.