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Fern Carpet | by Nicholas_T
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Fern Carpet

Meadow of hay-scented ferns (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) near Six-Mile Run, Moshannon State Forest, Centre County, along the Allegheny Front Trail.

 

Large swaths of hay-scented ferns and, sometimes, bracken ferns (Pteridium species) dominate the forest understory here and elsewhere in the Allegheny Plateau region. Although attractive and eye-catching, the ferns indicate an unhealthy forest ecosystem; their fronds and root systems crowd out other vegetation (including tree seedlings), and they release allelopathic chemicals that suppress plant growth.

 

Conditions that further perpetuate the ferns are deer overbrowsing (deer find the ferns unpalatable but will browse most other vegetation) and acid rain (the ferns tolerate soil acidification).

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Taken on June 8, 2013