West Highland Flora

Killarney Fern gametophyte


Trichomanes speciosum

 

Trichomanes speciosum gametophyte

Photo Carl Farmer
18 Sep 2004 Teangue, Skye

Occasional in caves and beneath rock overhangs.  Tolerates great darkness.  Only found on acid rock.

Mats not more than about 10 mm deep, can be of any breadth.

ID: Looks like a small moss or alga and needs very close examination to distinguish from these, but it can be done with a 10x lens and a good torch.  Does not look like any other fern gametophyte.  The plant is made up of filaments which branch more or less at right angles.  In places on the filaments are colourless or pale brown rhizoids.  There are also gemmae which are like small bits of filament joined by their middles to the main filament by a short stalk, creating a T shape.  I hope to have pictures showing these features soon.

Other features: This is the only British fern whose gametophytes can reproduce without a sporophyte generation.  With other ferns, the plant that we are all familiar with is the sporophyte, and the tiny gametophytes are rarely noticed.  But the Killarney Fern gametophyte is found in many areas, including Skye, where the sporophyte has never been known to occur.

 

Trichomanes speciosum gametophyte

Photo Carl Farmer
18 Sep 2004 Teangue, Skye

 

Trichomanes speciosum gametophyte

Photo Carl Farmer
18 Sep 2004 Teangue, Skye

  Trichomanes speciosum gametophyte

Photo Carl Farmer
18 Sep 2004 Teangue, Skye


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