Ecology and Management of Ferns in Northeastern Forests

I just came across a new Forest Science Fact Sheet publication by Dave Jackson of PSU on the ecology and management of ferns.  If you're dealing with ferns, this is a great resource.  I've pasted the first paragraph below, and linked to the full publication. The publication is developed in the context of Pennsylvania's forests, but the message and content has application throughout the region.

[from the publication]...Areas of hardwood forests in Pennsylvania, across the Great Lakes region, and throughout the Northeast contain dense understories of fern, including hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula Michx.), New York fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis L.), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum L.). These characteristic fern understories have made Pennsylvania famous for the picturesque beauty they provide to our forests. Most people don’t know that these dense fern understories are often biological deserts, lacking plant and wildlife diversity and providing little wildlife food or cover. Fern understories also interfere with the regeneration of hardwood forests, threatening their sustainability across the region.

Link to the full publication

or this URL

http://extension.psu.edu/natural-resources/forests/private/tools-re...

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Comment by Tim Levatich on October 1, 2016 at 6:44pm

Thanks for this post, Pete. 

I've been spot-spraying New York fern and Hay-scented fern during late summer this year.  So far the ferns look nice and green, weeks after treatment.  I'm concerned that drought stress lowered their metabolic activity, the herbicide (glyphosate) was not effective, and my spray treatments will have to be repeated next year.  I guess next year will tell the story.

Tim

Comment by Peter Smallidge on October 2, 2016 at 2:34pm

Hi Tim:

Time will tell.  Maybe they won't refoliate in the spring, or perhaps at least be a bit weaker and more sensitive next year.  Keep us posted on how what happens.

thanks,

Peter

Comment by Tim Levatich on November 26, 2017 at 7:53pm

Follow-up one year later:

We had great control on the ferns! I had timed my spraying to follow weeks of rain that came between our drought periods. Turns out that the rain must have restored the metabolic activity in the plants necessary for the glyphosate to work. Lesson learned: Know how your control methods actually work, then make your best plan to control problem species when the conditions are right.

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