The Mountain Provideth

My neighbour and I went off into the woods yesterday evening, which just happened to be the dark moon, to look for witchy treasures. She dug up some bleeding hearts, enchanter’s nightshade,  and a maple tree seedling to transplant to her shaded garden and I found decayed red cedar wood, beautiful Elder flower blossoms, tightly curled sword fern fiddleheads… and while we were near a stream I found the best and rarest treasure of all – male fern fiddleheads. Male fern grows here, but I almost never find it on the mountain. There was a huge growth of one covered in fiddleheads of which I harvested a small amount seen above resting on the cedar wood. Dried they are burned outdoors to cause rain, carried by men they increase their virility and protect from all harm, and the root when dug up on Midsummer’s Eve and dried by the bonfire becomes St. John’s Hand.

We also mentally mapped places to collect Oregon Grapes, Indian Plums, thimbleberries, and huckleberries from, and she also showed me a huge ancient Rowan tree she and her husband had stumbled upon during a walk. I’d never noticed it before, nor have I ever seen a wild Rowan so big or so old here on the mountain! It could possibly be the mother of all the rowans growing in the area!


No Responses to “The Mountain Provideth”

  1. Pombagira says:

    nice! sounds like a great walk. being that wellington is a fantastically green city i have been paying attention to what is growing, or shivering in the cold as it is heading fast into winter currently, its quite fun, and quite the eye opener.. *glee!*


  2. neimh says:

    Man, I went wildcrafting today and collected some male fearn leaves but no fiddleheads – and they where everywhere! I should have. Also located an abundance of Scotch Broom and wild roses, as well as an enormous (and gnarly!) old Tree, not sure the species but either Maple or Alder.

  3. how do you tell the difference between sexes of fiddleheads?

    • neimh says:

      Im not sure if this answers your question, whether you are referring to actual gender or the difference between “Lady” Fern Fiddleheads or “Male” Fern Fiddleheads. As Ferns propagate via spores there gender isn’t attributed to the actual plant. The names “Lady” and “Male” are just that – names for the plant. Identifying Ferns can be difficult however one generally can tell by broadness of Leaf, Rhizome Structure, and the actual shape/size of leaf. Male fern has large and broad leaves with thick and hearty fronds. Lady fern is very similar however they differ in leaf shape and rhizome structure.

      • Thanks. I was asking what Sarah meant when she said “male fern fiddleheads.”

        What you describe as a Male fern is very common in my neck of the woods which is very close to Sarah’s so I’m wondering what exactly Sarah is referring to. I’m familiar with Lady ferns and those large broad hearty ferns we just call ferns but I think they are indeed the sword ferns. All other ferns get a descriptive…

    • Sarah says:

      Lady fern is a genus referred to as Athyrium. My guess is it’s called Lady fern because it’s kinda frilly and girly:

      Male fern from the genus Dryopteris is similar-looking but different. The most common difference is that while Lady fern dies out and disappears every fall only to magically reappear every spring with new shoots of fiddleheads – the leaved fronds of Male fern stick around all fall and winter like Sword Fern, but still grow new fiddleheads – meaning both species can become quite huge in size! I’ve stumbled across some fronds of it here as tall as me!

      • ah ha. This all made me so curious I went to Google only to discover that there are 12000 kinds of ferns. My head exploded and I had to go get a diet coke…

        Thanks for the clarification Sarah and Neimh.