Have you spotted curly corkscrews emerging from the forest floor this spring? Look closely as the woods begins to “wake up” this season, and you’re likely to see some fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are the frizzy furls of a young fern that will unroll into a fresh frond. Most species of ferns go through this brief stage, which gets its name for its resemblance to the coiled end of a string instrument.
In folklore, ferns are often described as possessing magical qualities because of their “invisible” reproduction. Having been around for 300+ million years (well before the dinosaurs!), this ancient group of plants preceded flowering species and instead reproduces with spores. These spores can be spotted on the underside of the fern’s fronds after the fiddlehead unfurls.
Please note: many of NY’s native ferns are protected species and should never be taken from the wild unless you have the permission of the landowner.