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In comparison to the Oreopteris limbosperma in the last post these are much larger plants found alongside the streams and rivulets that run down the mountain. They stand out nicely from the Bracken at this time of year which is already turning brown. They are easily confused with male ferns which have a very similar tufted ‘shuttlecock’ habit.

Like Merryweather (2007); Averis (2013) is a book that is basically a key. Within the chapter on plants with pinnately divided leaves, the tall tufted ferns are grouped together on page 158. Rather than a key the ferns are placed together in a table. Perhaps because Oreopteris limbosperma is top of the list then its identification is very straightforward using this table. Interestingly neither Averis or Merryweather draw attention to what Stace (1997) describes as the main recognisable feature of the Thelypteridaceae (The family to which Oreopteris belongs), being the sub marginal more or less round sori on Dryopteris like leaves. (p. 21). Clapham et al (1981) are also very clear about these diagnostic features(p.10), combined with the yellow sessile glands and short leaf blade.

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Another member of the Thelypteridaceae and I think one of my favourite ferns is this, Beech fern Phegopteris connectilis. This was found lower down the hill in an open wooded area next to a small stream. Averis (2013) is very useful in quickly identifying this plant with its backward pointing basal pinnae. Both Averis (2013) and Merryweather (2007) however describe the plant as 2- pinnate whereas Poland and Clement (2009), Hutchinson and Thomas (1996), Clapham et al (1981).

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Meanwhile back up the hill and hidden among the bilberry and heather was this lone FirClubmoss, Huperzia selago.  Again Averis (2013) comes to the rescue because I don’t think many people would start looking in the fern book when coming across one of these. Averis (2013) lumps the clubmosses in with the chapter on mosses and other moss like plants. Merryweather (2007) has  a very useful section on clubmosses with detailed drawings of the leaves.

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