The lady fern is a decorative fern found across many deciduous lands, and can even be found growing in domestic gardens. This plant, with its delicate fronds is small, growing only up to about 35 inches.
The lady fern, as small as it is, has acquired many adaptations that allows it to grow and flourish in its native environments. One of its key evolutionary characteristics is its versatility; it can grow in dry soil, allowing it the ability to survive droughts.
Adding to its versatility is its ability to grow even in areas where there is no soil, like in rocks. It is also able to thrive in moist soil, like in forest areas and near riverbeds.
Its root system is important to its survival. The lady fern’s root system is stringy, and rhizomatous, allowing it to spread and collect every bit of water nearby and store it in its rhizomes.
Its reproductive system is also quite interesting. It reproduces by either spores, or its rhizomes. Usually following a fire, the plant sprouts from its rhizomes. If not, they rely on the spores, which cling to the underside of the fern’s leaf, in areas called ‘sori’.
When ripe, these spores release themselves and are either water or air borne to areas that encourage their growth.
Another great fact about this plant is its ability to produce offshoots along its main body, which later divide and plant themselves separately.
The lady fern’s leaf and stem system is another main adaptation of the plant. Its leaves protect the plant by falling off during freezing temperatures. When these leaves fall, thee protect the roots and crown by acting like a blanket.
The plant is also protected when these leaves fall, because there is conductive tissue that can lead to the plant catching a chill.
Its many spiky shaped leaves, which grow upright, cover a large area that allows the plant enough room to access sunlight and moisture, which are vital for its survival.
Its stems (or petioles) support its leaves. Scaly stems protect the plant from potential insect attacks. These scaly stems stabilize the plant at its base while providing strength to its leafy stalk.
These stems also save up moisture because of their waxy cuticles, while little fine hairs on the stems direct dew to its center.