How to Know the Ferns (7th ed)/Preface

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How to Know the Ferns, 7th ed. by Frances Theodora Parsons

"If it were required to know the position of the fruit-dots or the character of the indusium, nothing could be easier than to ascertain it; but if it is required that you be affected by ferns, that they amount to anything, signify anything to you, that they be another sacred scripture and revelation to you, helping to redeem your life, this end is not so easily accomplished."



Since the publication, six years ago, of "How to Know the Wild Flowers," I have received such convincing testimony of the eagerness of nature-lovers of all ages and conditions to familiarize themselves with the inhabitants of our woods and fields, and so many assurances of the joy which such a familiarity affords, that I have prepared this companion volume on "How to Know the Ferns." It has been my experience that the world of delight which opens before us when we are admitted into some sort of intimacy with our companions other than human is enlarged with each new society into which we win our way.

It seems strange that the abundance of ferns everywhere has not aroused more curiosity as to their names, haunts, and habits. Add to this abundance the incentive to their study afforded by the fact that owing to the comparatively small number of species we can familiarize ourselves with a large proportion of our native ferns during a single summer, and it is still more surprising that so few efforts have been made to bring them within easy reach of the public.

I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to the many books on our native ferns which I have consulted, but more especially to Gray's "Manual," to Eaton's "Ferns of North America," to the "Illustrated Flora" of Messrs. Britton and Brown, to Mr. Underwood's "Our Native Ferns," to Mr. Williamson's "Ferns of Kentucky," to Mr. Dodge's "Ferns and Fern Allies of New England," and to that excellent little quarterly, which I recommend heartily to all fern-lovers, the "Fern Bulletin," edited by Mr. Willard Clute, of Binghamton, N. Y.

To the State Botanist, Dr. Charles H. Peck, who has kindly read the proof-sheets of this book, I am indebted for many suggestions; also to Mr. Arthur G. Clement, of the University of the State of New York.

To Miss Marion Satterlee thanks are due not only for many suggestions, but also for the descriptions of the Woodwardias.

The pen-and-ink illustrations are all from original drawings by Miss Satterlee and Miss Alice Josephine Smith. The photographs have been furnished by Miss Murray Ledyard, Miss Madeline Smith, and Mr. Augustus Pruyn.

In almost all cases I have followed the nomenclature of Gray's "Manual" as being the one which would be familiar to the majority of my readers, giving in parentheses that used in the "Illustrated Flora" of Messrs. Britton and Brown.

Frances Theodora Parsons

Albany, March 6, 1899

"The more thou learnest to know and to enjoy, the more full and complete will be for thee the delight of living."