Leathery Polypody

While camping at Bullard’s Beach State Park in Oregon, Leonard and I walked to the old Bullard Family Cemetery early one morning. The previous day we saw wren tits in the brush surrounding the cemetery and I wanted to photograph them. The wren tits were not around, however I did find a leathery polypody (Polypodium scouleri) growing in the crook of a tree. When will I learn to let things come to me rather than take my camera out with a specific goal?

Leathery polypody is a native fern found in coastal areas from British Columbia to Baja. An evergreen, this fern grows in rock cracks and on cliff ledges. Occasionally leathery polypody is epiphytic (a plant growing on another plant), as this plant was.

A waxy, scaly rhizome anchors the plant. The fronds are stout, stiff and leathery. The pinnae (primary divisions of the pinnate leaf) are rounded. The oval sori (cluster of spore cases) are yellowish, maturing to brownish, and are located in a single row on either side of the main pinnae veins. The sori do not have an indusium (outer protective covering). I like this distinctive-looking fern.

Other common names for P. scouleri are coast polypody and Scouler’s polypody. John Scouler (1804-1871) was a Scottish naturalist who traveled to the Pacific Northwest in 1824-1826.


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