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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group, a place where everyone is welcome to note the observations you have made of the natural world around you. Insects, weather, fish, climate, birds and/or flowers: all are worthy additions to the bucket. Ask questions if you have them and someone here may well have an answer. All we ask is that you let us know where you're located, as close as you're comfortable revealing.
Seattle. April 11, 2013.

The northern quarter of the Forest slips down gently, opening from the big conifers on the Forest ridge down into the light of Alder and Big-leaf Maple and on to Where-Grandmother-Tree-Used-To-Stand. The northern Barred Owl nest tree is located just where the slope begins, an older Douglas Fir with an elbow branch jutting out about a third of the way from the top. A mob of PO'd crows yelled from a place near the nest tree when we walked there today. Owl kept hidden as more crows streamed in from the west to join in the ruckus. I watched for a long time before moving on, and saw nothing.

Halfway down the slope is a stump, most likely the remains of a fallen Big-leaf Maple old enough that its body has melted into the forest floor. The only sign of its erstwhile presence is the stump and the Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza) rising up from the forest floor in a thick band to the northwest. Licorice Fern likes to grow on upright trees, but will hold its grip even years after its upright matrix has gone horizontal.

I find the top of this stump a convenient tripod for my camera.

The view downslope looked like this in January (not the best splicing...):

January 10, 2013. The Forest, Seattle. View from the Stump.January 10, 2013. The Forest, Seattle. View from the Stump.
A week ago it looked like this:
April 2, 2013. The Forest, Seattle. View from the Stump.April 2, 2013. The Forest, Seattle. View from the Stump.
Washington is known as The Evergreen State for good reason, at least for those of us on the west side of the state.

Look closer at the clump of green at the bottom of the dark tree at the right. That green is Licorice Fern, and Licorice Fern prefers winter. In the three months between these photos it has quietly begun to fade, dropping many of its fronds to moulder on the ground as the rest of the landscape begins to break green.

Even so, between January and April they have done the business needed for reproduction, developing spores and shedding them in a fine mist most often invisible except for the occasional sneeze.

March 29, 2011. Ripe Licorice Fern sori.March 29, 2011. The Forest, Seattle. Ripe Licorice Fern sori.
By June the trail named "Licorice Fern" will have no sign of its name. New visitors will probably not notice its absence, but perhaps in late July a few of them will return and wonder over the first exuberant coils of next season's fronds springing up from their dormant places, upright and horizontal.
July 24, 2007. Licorice Fern, first fronds.July 24, 2007. Licorice Fern, first fronds.
No Licorice Ferns grow on The Stump now, but it nurtures two fine colonies of Wood Fern (Dryopteris expansa). These have risen up in the past weeks, big fiddleheads staking out their own place in the Forest's spring landscape.
April 9, 2013. The Forest, Seattle. Wood Fern fiddleheads.April 9, 2013. The Forest, Seattle. Wood Fern fiddleheads.
April 11, 2013. The Forest, Seattle. Licorice Fern has begun to go into dormancy. Wood Fern fiddleheads are present.


All are welcome to add observations from their natural neighborhoods to the Bucket. What's happening where you are?

Busy day today and I'll not be able to check back in until around dinnertime PDT, but you all know what to do.

Carry on.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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