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Dryopteris affinis agg.                                                                   BACK

                                                                          Scroll down for records of the segregates.

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Dryopteris affinis agg.                                                                                                                      Scaly Male Ferns

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This taxon is a 'mess' of complex hybrids that reproduce apogamously and is currently spit up into three taxa at specific, as opposed to their former status, at subspecific level. Dryopteris borreri is the most frequent in Essex, probably with hundreds of sites; D. affinis (formerly D. affinis subsp. affinis) is apparently very rare, but probably overlooked, although once known it is very distinctive. Dryopteris cambrensis has been found in Hertfordshire so it could well turn up in Essex. Descriptions in the books are often contradictory so itís best to stick to a few definitive features. All three are unable to reproduce sexually, the prothalli producing antheridia (which can fertilize D. filix-mas to produce hybrids) but not archegonia, new sporophytes arising directly from prothallial tissue which then produce spores that develop into prothalli that repeat the cycle. This apomictic mode of reproduction means that any mutations accumulate so that colonies in a given area may form recognizable morphological clones. To  complicate matters further, D. affinis sensu stricto has now been formally split into three subspecies: affinis [thus reinstating subsp. affinis but in a much more strict context]; of the other two, it appears that subsp. paleaceolobata is being found to extend increasingly eastwards and we should therefore look out for it. All three of the following can form hybrids with D.filix-mas, and the first generation hybrids have been given formal names [see below appended to each species account] but these can then back-cross to form a further series of secondary hybrids which have not been given formal names! See Stace III p.33-37 for more details.

D. borreri is usually of much the same stature, colour and surface texture as D. filix-mas, but like the other D. affinis s.l. segregates, it has a dark (grey/purplish) spot on the underside where each pinna joins the rhachis; it also has noticeably parallel-sided pinnae and pinnules, the latter being truncate at their ends. It has more golden scales on the lower rhachis than D. filix-mas, but less so than D. affinis. Unlike the next, its fronds die back in the autumn.

D. affinis is a much larger plant with leathery, dark green, glossy fronds that tend to be more upright, and stay green through most winters.. It too has the dark spot, and its rhachis is densely smothered in long golden scales. The ends of the pinnules lack the truncate shape of borreri. Our  plants so far recorded are all D. affinis subsp. affinis in which the lowest downward facing pinnules of the lowest pinnae are not the longest and are unlobed or scarcely lobed, whereas in subsp. palaeceolobata the corresponding pinnules are longer than the rest with small distinct lobes. Subsp. affinis and  susbsp. palaeceolobata have the edges of the indusia covering the sori tucked under the edge of the sori when young, like a kidney-shaped doughnut, as opposed to the edges curving over and then outwards to form a flat flange as in D. filix-mas.

D. cambrensis is similar to D. affinis, with the dark spot, shiny leaves and masses of scales on the lower rhachis - but these have a reddish-tinge to the gold. The pinnules get evenly smaller all the way down the pinnae, as opposed to being the same length for at least half-way in the other two, and the pinnules are rounded rather than truncate at the apex, the lowest on each pinna having a substantial basal lobe that overlaps the rhachis. Like D. borreri, its fronds wither at the first frosts. Its inducia shrivel to form a pye-crust shape.

 

 

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Dryopteris affinis (E.J.Lowe) Frazer Jenk.                                                          Golden or Scaly Male Fern

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BACK                                                                            Light 5. Wetness 6. pH 6-7. Fertility 3.   Height <1.5m                                                                                                             Native.

Native. The distribution of this fern in Britain is uncertain as it has seldom been separately recorded due to difficulties in identification. It is however predominantly a fern of the woods, valleys and roadside banks of the lower hillsides of the more mountainous parts of Britain, and is said to avoid base rich areas (C.N.Page 1997). In Essex it only appears to be present as scattered individuals, presumably deriving from a thin scattering of wind-borne spores. At its sites so far recorded it seems to require rather more shady and wetter conditions on deeper soils than D. borreri. In most winters, unlike D. borreri it remains green. It forms vigorous hybrids with D. filix-mas that differ in their softer texture but otherwise resemble the D. affinis parent. The F1 hybrid is known as D. x complexa Frazer-Jenk.

All records:

TL(51)30 395,031 19 Galleyhill Wood, single plant among c. 100 D. filix-mas damp area in SE corner. 5 November 2013. K.J.Adams.
TQ(51)49 4086,9821 18 Epping Forest, Rat's Lane stream, very large plant and smaller one just above confluence of deeply incised stream with boggy flush. 8 September.2010. K J Adams.
  418,994 18 Epping Forest, Honeylane Quarter,one medium plant boggy stream just south of bend in Woodredon Hill. Tim Pyner et al. 17 October 2009.
  4294,9863 18 Epping Forest, Broadstrood, single large plant north side of Green Ride, 13 October 2014. K.J.Adams.
  4382,9893 18 Theydon Bois C.P., 2 large plants, still fresh, east bank Debden Brook just below Birch Hall Meadows, Tim Pyner et Essex Bryology Group, 19 February 2014.
  42756,99083 18 Dulsmead Hollow Bog north, single very large plant with Aythrium, 29 November 2016. K.J. Adams
TL(52)40 48,02 18 Epping, woodland south of St. Margaret's Hosptl. 2 plants 16 June 2007. Tim Pyner et Pteridological Soc.
  445,007 18 Epping Forest, Epping Thicks, one large, one small plant, dark spots and 'muffin-shaped' indusia, very thick, leathery, very scaly, dark green,  pinnules not truncate. 11 Septenmber 2013. K.J. Adams.
TQ(51)59 58,91 18 Warley Place, west side of track just west of the rockery. Large plant. 29 October 2013. K.J.Adams.
  57397,99466 18 Stondon Massey C.P., The Coppice, one patch of 12 huge to 2m high plants, plus several small ones in Alder carr. 19 September 2015. K.J.Adams et EFC, 9 still present 25 September 2016. EFC.
  57374,99304 18 Stondon Massey C.P., The Coppice, one medium sized plant and several smaller. 19 September. 2015. K.J.Adams et EFC. (grid from satellite)
  57349,99613 18 Stondon Massey C.P., The Coppice, 2 large plants (grid from satellite). 25 September 2016. EFC.
  57277,99718 18 Kelvedon Hatch C.P., The Coppice, 1 large plant. (grid from satellite) 25 September 2016. EFC.
  57295,99660 18 Kelvedon Hatch C.P., The Coppice, 1 huge plant and 2 smaller. (grid from satellite) 25 September 2016. EFC.
  57304,99635 18 Kelvedon Hatch C.P., The Coppice, 1 small plant. (grid from satellite) 25 September 2016. EFC.
  57394,99333 18 Stondon Massey C.P., The Coppice, one medium sized plant. 19 September. 2015. K.J.Adams et EFC.
TL(52)51 5433,1998 19 Hatfield Forest, Gravel Pit Coppice, c.10 plants in damp hollow. 8 December 2012. Tim Pyner et BBS. Confirmed British Pteridological Society. 21 September 2013, with one D. carthusiana and one D. borreri.
TL(52)52 5440,2046 19 Hatfield Forest, Elgin Coppice, large plant by E-W exit track. 21 September 2013. Pteridological Society.

TQ(51)69

648,985

18

Ingatestone, Heybridge Farm, single plant in ditch.10 Jun 2000. Graham Smith

 

68,95 18 Basildon, Norsey Wood., a few large plants, marshy area. 14 March 2009.
 

683,952

18

Basildon, Norsey Wood, single very large plant just north of western stream. 27 Mar 2010. Kenneth J Adams et EFC.

  691,958 18 Basildon, Norsey Wood, single medium plant edge of cleared area. 29 October 2011. K.J.Adams.
  607,911 18 Brentwood, Thorndon Park. 1 large plant by ditch. 28 August 1984. Tim Pyner.
  60345,92198 18 Brentwood, Harts Wood. 1 large plant north side of deep ditch. 7 July 2018. Kenneth J. Adams. (Wheresthepath grid).
TL(62)62 62,21 19 Great Dunmow, Flitch Way old railway line, 1 large plant 2007. Tim Pyner.

 

62,21 19 Great Dunmow, Olive's Wood & Ash Grove, scattered plants. 8 March 2008.
  6254,2134 19 Great Dunmow C.P., Olive's Wood. One large plant on Badger set mid-western edge of Olives Wood. 8 April 2015. Ken Adams.
TL(52)70 7695,0487 18 Danbury Country Park, single plant west bank of stream above the upper lake. 16 February 2012. K J Adams.
  773,065 18 Little Baddow, Blakes Wood, by wood bank, one large plant. 10 April 2014. Tim Pyner et Wild Flower Group.
  789,059 18 Little Baddow, Twitty Fee, marshy flush c. 5 plants. 17 April 2014. Tim Pyner et Wild Florwer Group.
  790,060 18 Little Baddow, Twitty Fee, single plant in spring-head bog just NW of track. 17 April 2014. Tim Pyner et Wild Flower Group.
  791,061 18 Little Baddow, Twitty Fee, two in marshy flush just west of Twitty Fee road. 17 April 2014. Tim Pyner et Wild Flower Group.
  793,071 18 Woodham Walter C.P. One shuttlecock, swampy area by main stream. Woodham Walter Common. 23 April 2015. K.J.Adams.
TL(52)71 74156,17115 19 Great Leighs C.P., Mann Wood. One very large plant west side of ride with one of D. borreri  30 June 2018. K J Adams.
TL(52)72 786,295 19 Gosfield Sandpits LNR. 1 large plant. 27 December 2003. Tim Pyner.
TL(52)73 7910,3147 19 Broak's Wood, Sible Hedingham, mixed colony with borreri on south sloping hillside, 27 June 2009.                                 Tim Pyner et Brit. Pterid.Soc.

 

792,314

19

Broak's Wood, Sible Hedingham, 2 plants just east of path at 79258,31403 and 79369,31411. 27 Feb 2010.                       Kenneth J Adams et Tim Pyner.

TL(52)80 8108,0708 19 Woodham Walter C.P., one huge plant in wooded swamp. 12 October 2016. Ken Adams et Essex Botanical Society.
  8114,8724 19 Woodham Walter C.P., 4 large plants, steep bank of incised stream.12 October 2016. Ken Adams et Essex Botanical Society.

TL(52)81

85,11

19

Great Totham, old gravel pit. 2 large plants. 11 August 2002. Tim Pyner.

TL(52)82

872,273

19

Chalkney Wood, two very large plants together south side of path. 09 Oct 2008. Kenneth J Adams et EFC.

TL(52)92 969,207 19 Layer de la Haye, Heather Fields, single medium plant just west of stream. October 2010. K J Adams & Tim Pyner.

TM(62)01

049,192

19

Fingringhoe Wick NR., 1 large plant nr Conservation Centre, 20 Jul 1991. Tim Pyner .conf. AG Piggott.                            [now gone Kenneth J Adams 2009]

TM(62)13 18,31 19 Ramsey, Stour Wood, several individuals scattered with D. borreri, D. filis mas and their hybrids.9 October 2010. Kenneth  J. Adams.

Dryopteris x complexa Fraser-Jenk. [D. filix-mas x affinis s.s.]

Woodham Walter, Middlemead Wood, just north of Birch Wood, TL78990,07130.  95% of spores aborted. Morphology indicated affinis s.s. parent. 25 July 2015. Roger Golding et British Pteridological Society.

Little Baddow Heath, in wet flush to south of main stream, TL79021,06156.99% of spores aborted. Morphology indicated affinis s.s. parent. 25 July 2015. Roger Golding et British Pteridological Society.

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Dryopteris borreri (Newman) Fraser Jenk.                                                   Borrer's Scaly Male Fern

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Light 8. Wetness 7. pH 6-9. Fertility 3.  Height  <80cm                                                                                                             Native.

Native. This is the most widely distributed and abundant of the three segregates in Britain, and has the greatest range of habitat tolerance, ranging from mortared walls to the acidic soils of pine plantations (C.N.Page 2007). In Essex we only seem to find it as scattered individuals in slightly acidic habitats. Its fronds usually unfurl about a week later than those of D. filix-mas at any given site, but unlike D. affinis s.s. they die back in the autumn. Once one has an eye in for it its truncate pinnules give it a distinctive giz, although hybrids with D. filix-mas can complicate identification. Furthermore not all plants included in the circumscription have the truncate apex to the pinnules, but the dark mark at the junction with the rachis is diagnostic in combination with an indusium that shivels to a 'chanterelle' rather than with permanently tucked under edges as in D. affinis s.s. It usually grows with D. filix-mas but seems to require rather more moisture. The F1 hybrid with D. filix-mas is known as D. x critica.

All records:

TQ(51)49

42,96

18

Loughton, numerous clumps planted in border at Staples School. 5 May 2009. K J Adams

 

46,02

18

Epping

TL(52)40 4693,0747   Latton Park, single good plant by N-S ride. 30 July 2013. K.J.Adams

TQ(51)59

51,92

18

Havering, Bedfordís Park, a few plants, woodland stream bank. 17 March 2007. Tim Pyner.

 

5161,9908 18 Stapleford Tawney C.P., Langford Bottom woodland by bridleway bridge. 24 April 2018. K. J. Adams. [fresh fronds unfurling]

 

5771,9436

18

Weald Country Park, steep wooded slope among bracken. 12 June 2008. Mary Smith & Bob Creber.

 

57,99

18

Kelvedon Hatch, The Coppice, small colony in open glade. 25 May 2003. Tim Pyner.

  57365,99533 18 Stondon Massey C.P., The Coppice, 7 plants in cluster. (satellite grid). 25 September 2016. EFC.
  57323,99693 18 Stondon Massey C.P., The Coppice, 1 plant. (satellite grid) 25 September 2016. EFC.
  57313,99610 18 Kelvedon Hatch C.P., The Coppice, 1 small plant (satellite grid) 25 September 2016. EFC.
TL(52)51 5425,1994 19 Hatfield Forest, Gravel Pit Coppice, 4 plants in damp hollow east of track with one confirmed x crinita. 21st September 2013. Pteridological Society.
TL(52)52 54426,20357 19 Hatfield Forest, Elgin Coppice, 4 good plants in damp hollow just east of track. 21 September 2013. Pteridological Society.
  5434,2005 19 Hatfield Forest, Gravel pit Coppice, single plant. 21st September 2013. Pteridological Society.

TQ(51)68

68,87

18

Basildon, Marks Hill Wood N.R., scattered, 27 March 1994. Tim Pyner.

 

682,864

18

Basildon, Langdon Hills, Coombe Wood. Frequent in damp area nr. Ponds. 4 October 1996. Tim Pyner.

TQ(51)69

685,951

18

Norsey Wood, 1 plant on stream bank. 19 October 1997.

 

60,91

18

Thorndon Park, scattered along ditches. 28 August 2004. Tim Pyner.

 

61,96

18

Curtismill Green, 2-3 plants, edge of deeply incised Bourne Brook. 27 April 2002. K J Adams et EFC.

TL(52)60

65,02

18

Ingatestone, Hockley Shaw.  19 August 1999. Graham Smith.

 

63,01

18

Ingatestone, Stoneymore Wood, thinly scattered in low lying areas. 1 July 2005. Graham Smith.

  63793,01934 18 Ingatestone, Stoneymore Wood, 20 large plants. 6 September 2014. EFC & Pteridological Soc.
  63737,01893 18 Ingatestone, Stoneymore Wood, 1 large plant. 6 September 2014. EFC & Pteridological Soc.

 

63,02

18

Highwood, Barrow Wood/Deerslade Wood, scattered in damp area. 7 July 2006. Graham Smith

 

64,00

18

Ingatestone, The Grove. 11 May 1999. Grham Smith.

 

64,02

18

Highwood, Ellis Wood. 29 May 2002. Graham Smith.

 

659,005

18

Margaretting Hall Farm, single plant in ditch.  20 July 1998. Graham Smith.

TL(51)62

62,21

19

Great Dunmow, Olives Wood & Ash Grove, scattered plants. 8 March 2008. Tim Pyner.

TL(52)70

70,02

18

Galleywood Common, several plants in secondary woodland. 25 September 2004.

 

77,04

18

Danbury Country Park, frequent along stream. 12 January 2008. Tim Pyner.

  7704,0493 18 Danbury Country Park, medium plant on west bank of stream. 1 August 2013. K J Adams.

 

77,06

18

Little Baddow, Blakes Wood, frequent in places. 24 May 2008. Tim Pyner.

  773,067 18 Little Baddow, Blakes Wood, one plant just south of stream, 10 April 2014. Tim Pyner et Wild Flower Group.
  789,059 18 Little Baddow C,P., several plants in marshy flush just south of main Twitty Fee valley. Tim Pyner et Wild Flower Group. 10 April 2014.
  789,069 18 Little Baddow, Birch Wood, several plants plus hybrids with D. filix-mas. Geoffrey Pyman 1970s.
  790,060 18 Little Baddow, several in spring head bog, south of main Twitty Fee valley, 10 April 2014. Tim Pyner et Wild Flower Group.
TL(52)71 74156,17115 19 Great Leighs C.P., Mann Wood. One very plant west side of ride with one of D. affinis  30 June 2018. K J Adams.
       

TL(52)73

764,334

19

Sible Hedingham, Lowts Wood, 1 large plant. 12 October 1989. Tim Pyner.

 

7910,3147

19

Broak's Wood, Sible Hedingham, mixed colony with affinis on south sloping hillside, 27 June 2009.                                   Tim Pyner et Brit. Pterid.Soc.

TL(52)82

82,26

19

Coggeshall, Nuntys Wood, scattered. 22 May 1993. Tim Pyner.

 

87,27-8

19

Earls Colne, Chalkney Wood, frequen t. 20 August 2005. Tim Pyner.

TM(62)12

183,213

19

Thorpe le Soken, Thorpe Hall, Hall Row, scattered plants. 19 June 2004. Tim Pyner.

TM(62)13

18-9,31

19

Ramsey, Stour Wood. Frequent. 11 August 1991 & 18 July 1999. Tim Pyner.

TM(62)23

20,31

19

Ramsey, Copperas Wood, frequent. 19 October 1992. Tim Pyner.

 

Dryopteris x critica Fraser-Jenk. [D. filix-mas x D. borreri]

This hybrid has been recorded from Birch Wood, Little Baddow. One confirmed record from Hatfield Forest in Gravel Pit Coppice c. 5425,1994. (>90spores shrunken). 21st September 2013. Pteridological Society. Putative plants Stonymore Wood 653854,01992 and 04070,02057. 6 Sept. 2014. BPS.