Ferns have a different set of identifying characteristics than flowering plants - please read Fern Chracteristics. In general, we identify fronds (the leaf), pinnae (leaflets of a frond), and sori (reproductive clusters found on the underside of the pinnae.)
Dennstaedtiaceae is very similar to the Pteridaceae (Brake Fern Family) - some older books may still have the Bracken Fern as part of that family. Dennstaedtiaceae is distinguished mainly by its scattered (not clustered) fronds, and its green, grooved petioles (stems).
The single member of Dennstaedtiaceae on Montara Mountain is Pteridum aquilinum (Bracken Fern)
Fronds: 2 - 4 ft long, broad triangles; on single stems (non-clumping).
Pinnae: Leathery, in opposite arrangement.
Sori: In dense rows around edges of the undersides of pinnae, not covered by indusia (flaps).
Location: All trails, usually in sheltered areas.
Status: Common - Native.
Further description & Comment: The frond petioles (stems) are greenish, not shiny, and hairy at the base. It has a prominent groove in the stem, and may be up to 100cm (40 inches) tall.
600x450 JPEG - 32K
Brackens are common along the trails on Montara Mountain, usually growing in small groups - these are often single plants, with the individual fronds arising from a common "creeping underground rhizome" (sounds scary!)
Along with Polystichum minutum. (Western Sword Fern), probably the most commonly encountered fern on Montara Mountain.
Like most ferns, bracken leaves "unroll" from a fiddle-neck shape, as shown in the image above.
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