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.)
Polypodiaciaceae produce their thick, shiny leaves in clusters, with light green petioles (leaf stems). The leaves are at least pinaately compound (leaflets and lobes arranged on both sides of the main axis or rachis), and carry the sori (reproductive clusters) along the lengths of the leaf lobes (not along the margins). The sori are not covered by a separate flap (indusia). Mature plants are often over 50 cm tall.
On Montara Mountain, we can find Polypodium californicum - California Polypody
Fronds: Up to 15 inches long; in small clusters.
Pinnae: Smooth surfaced, rounded tips.
Sori: In rows along underside of pinnae.
Location: Common along most trails, especially on bluffs.
Status: Common - Native.
Further description & Comment: 4 to 20 inches tall. Another of the "friendly" ferns, cute little Polypodies can be found sticking out of crevices and popping up from underbrush in most areas of the mountain. Colonies range in size from 2 or 3 small fronds to hundreds.
These images are from the crowd that live up by North Peak - the one below right shows the unovered sori on the bottom of the pinnae.
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