Licorice Ferns | Lost Coast Outpost | Humboldt County

Licorice Ferns

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015 @ 11:23 p.m. / Featured Image

Image: Cheryl Lisin

A time to stop and savor our local plants. Cheryl Lisin, our expert on all plants local, fills us in on one of Humboldt’s great beauties.

When the rain starts in the fall, the bright green fronds of the California polypody fern appear. They stay lush and green until the weather turns summery, when the fronds wither and disappear. Polypodies grow from rhizomes on moss covered  tree trunks, logs, rocks, cliffs and sometimes even dirt, expanding to form large patches.

On the underside of the fronds you can see the sori, small bumps containing spores. When conditions are right, spores will grow into new plants . A common name for polypodies is licorice fern, as the rhizomes taste like licorice. The scientific name is Polypodium californicum and it is in the family Polypodiaceae.

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