What is a fiddlehead?

fern leaf

A fiddlehead is a young frond or fern leaf.  When it first emerges from the underground rhizome (horizontal root-like structure) of the fern, it is tightly coiled and resembles a fiddle.  

As the new fiddleheads continue to unfurl, the new fern fronds expand and grow.  Most ferns have compound leaves (leaf blade is divided into several leaflets).

The Tucker Greenhouse is filled with collections of many different types of plants collected throughout the years. There is a very nice collection of ferns located in the north Tropical room on the northern most bench. Ferns are seedless, vascular plants. They produce spores instead of seeds, and they have a vascular system consisting of xylem and phloem for water and nutrient transport.

spores

Sori (clusters of sporangia) on the undersides of a fern leaf.  Each sporangium is filled with numerous spores.

More on ferns another day! Perhaps next year…….