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Re: Blue Ferns

Robbin Moran reviewed the literature of irridescent ferns in a 1995 issue of 
Fiddlehead Forum. The species exhibiting it and showing a blue color included, 
in addition to those mentioned here, members of the genera Anemia, Athyrium, 2 
Danaea, Didymochlaena, 4 Diplazium, 2 Lindsaea, Mesophlebion, Polystichopsis, 
Trichomanes, and two Selaginella.

Summarizing, these ferns grow in deep shade. A percentage of full sunlight of 
0.25% is noted in one measurement. In addition "red light is particularly 
scarce because much of it has been absorbed by the overhead vegetation. In red-
depleted light plants languish because red is the color most efficiently used 
in photosynthesis. ... It is under these stressful conditions that irridescence 
benefits plants. Irridescence allows more red light to pass through the 
epidermal cell wall to the cloroplasts where photosynthesis takes place. It 
does this at the expense of reflecting more blue light than normal...."

The article also discusses the thin film cell structures that cause diffraction 
and irridescence, and furthermore goes on to discuss other adaptations to cell 
structure for life in low light.

Tom Stuart
At a New York garden where not a single fern has been seen for ten weeks.
Forecast: snow. What else?

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