Ferns: Green on green in the ancient forest

  • A fern fiddlehead unfolding.

In the ancient forest at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in northern California, you walk beneath some of the tallest trees on the planet, immersed in a green-on-green world dripping with ferns, their amazing fiddleheads unfurling in the spring. Ferns cover the forest floor, drape from the branches and trunks of the trees and line the 50-foot walls of the world-famous Fern Canyon.

Waist-high sword ferns surround our campsite, delicate deer fern and lacy lady fern line the sides of the trails. The deer fern has two types of fronds, sterile ones with broader leaflets, and reproductive fronds with much narrower leaflets that contain spores on their undersides.

Leather fern form mats in the redwood canopy, creating hanging gardens with up to six feet of soil and blooming blackberry bushes. Bracken ferns cover the prairie, nearly hiding the reclining elk munching there. And in Fern Canyon, a World Heritage site and an International Biosphere Reserve, five-finger ferns flutter from canyon walls.


  1. Reply
    Corbin Shouse June 8, 2017

    I am so impressed by these images! They are spectacular renditions of beautiful flora and fauna. Bravo!

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols June 10, 2017

      Thanks, Corbin.

  2. Reply
    Michael June 9, 2017

    Beautiful photos and story.

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols June 10, 2017

      Thanks, Mike.

  3. Reply
    Nancy Warfield June 9, 2017

    wonderful! thanks for the preview. We will be there in early July

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols June 10, 2017

      You’ll love it, Nancy.

  4. Reply
    Kirstin C June 27, 2017

    I love how green the Pacific Northwest is. Enjoying your photos and following your journey! How’s the budget/finance piece going this year?

    • Reply
      Judy Nichols July 29, 2017

      I’ll have to crack the whip on Tom! How are your plans proceeding?

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