Friday, October 24, 2008

Bird's nest fern ( asplenium nidus) on my chalet steps

It is raining this morning in Bintulu.  I couldn't go outside to do any gardening.  Therefore I decided to be an ' armchair  horticulturalist'.
I am always fascinated by ferns and am thinking seriously now to establish a collection of ferns at one of the vegetation islands at my farm. Anyway, about the bird's nest fern I have one growing extremely healhty just at the steps at the back of my chalet as shown above.
Notice the sporangia ( containing spores ) on the underside of the frond. Appearing like dark brown to black lines, they are kept dry after every shower of rain. Ferns do not produce flowers and thus belong to a unique group of plants. Normally botanists identify plants whether trees or shrubs from their flowers or inflorescences. Spores are very light and easily airborne and thus able to colonise new habitats.

In the case of the bird's nest fern at my chalet, dead leaves from the eugenia tree I planted above it, collect within the middle of the 'nest'.  Overtime more dead leaves are collected and compacted and they slowly rot. Other dead insects like ants,flies' lizards etc get accumulated into the rotting organic mass.  I am always looking forward to new pale green fronds that emerge from the decaying leaves.  Rain water is soaked up by this mass and stored until the next shower.
The above shows how you can have a beautiful display of the bird's nest fern. However, the best conditions for growing them are in moist and shady areas, which are easily present in Bintulu's tropical climate.

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