FERTILE FRONDS UNIFORMLY SOMEWHAT LEAF-LIKE,
17. CHRISTMAS FERN
Aspidium acrosiichoides (Dryopteris acrostichoides)
New Brunswick to Florida, in rocky woods. One to two and a half feet high, with very chaffy stalks.
Fronds.—Lance-shaped, once-pinnate, fertile fronds contracted toward the summit; pinnæ narrowly lance-shaped, half halberd-shaped at the slightly stalked base, bristly-toothed, the upper ones on the fertile fronds contracted and smaller; fruit-dots round, close, confluent with age, nearly covering the under surface of the fertile pinnæ; indusium orbicular, fixed by the depressed centre.
Of our evergreen ferns this is the best fitted to serve as a decoration in winter. No other fern has such deep-green, highly polished fronds. They need only a mixture of red berries to become a close rival to the holly at Christmastime.
Wrapped in a garment of brown scales, the young fronds of the Christmas Fern are sent into the world early in the spring. When we go to the woods in April to look for arbutus, or to listen to the first songs of the robin and the bluebird, we notice that last year's fronds are still fresh and green. Low down among them, curled up like tawny caterpillars, are the young fronds. The arbutus will have made way for pink and blue and white hepaticas, for starry bloodroot, and for tremulous anemones; thrushes and orioles will have joined the robins and the bluebirds before these new-comers present much of an