Athyrium filix-femina

Partially-shaded wet and moist habitats are the preferred environments for Athyrium filix-femina, or the lady-fern (filix meaning “fern” and femina meaning “female”), shown here in the foreground. Abiqua Falls and its moisture-trapping basaltic amphitheatre provide an ideal growing location for this Northern Hemisphere species.

Lady-fern is cultivated for ornamental use in shade and woodland gardens; the species is the recipient of an RHS Award of Garden Merit, while Great Plant Picks has chosen the cultivar ‘Frizelliae’ among its garden-worthy selections.

The fiddleheads of lady-fern have been generally ignored as food, noted by the Plants for a Future database as containing “thiaminase, an enzyme that robs the body of its vitamin B complex” if eaten raw. With cooking, some First Nations apparently ate them as a “bitter emergency food”.

Additional reading on lady-fern can be found via the Flora of North America: Athyrium filix-femina or the Hardy Fern Library: Athyrium filix-femina.

Lastly, a word of caution to anyone doing the short hike to Abiqua Falls: bring a friend or adequate footwear and hiking poles, as that was one of the slickest trails I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.

Athyrium filix-femina

9 responses to “Athyrium filix-femina”

  1. Mark Binder

    Daniel, you may want to answer this query off site. This is a really splendid exposure. I accept the eye and ability you certainly have, but I wonder if you could tell me which camera / lens you used.

  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Mark, I don’t mind answering that.
    Tripod-mounted Canon 5D (Mk I) with the 17-40mm f/4L lens at 20mm. ISO 320, 0.5 second exposure at f/22 (probably should have done f/16, in retrospect). It was one of a series of exposure-bracketed images.
    Composition was decided primarily around the idea that the green bit above the waterfall could float down and near-perfectly fill the gap in the fern foliage.

  3. Jessica

    Wish I was there. Sighhhhhhh
    Thanks for the photo tips…always nice to know.
    BTW…why do you think you should have used f16?

  4. Daniel Mosquin

    At f/16, there should be less diffraction than at f/22 (which causes a softness one can see in the image more at full resolution). I should have traded smaller depth of field at f/16 for a bit better sharpness throughout.

  5. Maureen

    It’s simply beautiful and peaceful, Daniel. I enjoyed reading about the camera settings too. Lovely photo. Athyrium filix-femina is one of my favorite native plants to use in landscaping

  6. Peony Fan

    Simply beautiful. A sight for sore eyes in our MN winter (coldest in 30 years!). Also good to know that not all fiddleheads are delectable. Thank you.

  7. Ray Collier

    Very nice image. Couldn’t you adjust sharpness in post?

  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Some sharpening was done, yes, since I don’t allow the camera to do it for me. But that is only useful to a point.

  9. Pierre Crozat

    My family comes frome Auvergne, in France, and we have the same rock formations there (we call them “orgues basaltiques”, a great name in my opinion). It touches me that so far apart, the earth shows the same patterns, the same landscapes…something we haven’t disturbed.

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