Along the woods path a week later. It is very useful to watch the plants at their different phases and get used to seeing them without flowers, here come the buds, now they’re blooming, oh, there are the seeds. I only wish I’d started earlier.
I’ve never really paid much attention to ferns, but this time I made a point of it. I believe I saw four types, I believe all four of the ones mentioned in Field Guide to the Cayuga Lake Region. I don’t have the guidebook on hand and don’t feel all that confident with the last two anyway, but the book pointed out that one of the ferns was twice-divided and the other thrice-divided. I apologize in advance for confusion. So the stem, one leaf, comes out of the ground, and “Fern, twice compound” shows one stem (no main stem shown in “thrice compound”). Off of each stem comes not one leaf, like on most plants such as maples or zucchini, but a dozen or so leaflets; “twice” shows about 8 of these, “thrice” I’ve zoomed in to mostly show just one. Most compound leaves stop here, but these ferns keep going. “Twice” has divided each of these 8 or so leaflets into 16 or so sub-leaflets, which you see are cut in almost all the way to the leaflet’s stemlet. The photo of “thrice” shows about 20 sub-leaflets. “Twice” stops here – those sub-leaflets are toothed, but nowhere near to the sub-stemlet. But I think “thrice” has one more division into about 12 sub-sub-leaflets. Maybe simpler, try counting the number of stems which have leaflets divided almost to their base (I don’t mean the total number on the leaf, I mean getting smaller and smaller like a fractal), keeping in mind that the main stem on “thrice” is not showing. I count 2 and 3, respectively.