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I don't think it's a Buckler but I'm also not sure about it being Soft Shield... I can't really see the little 'thumb' shape on the pinnules. Maybe it's a Male Fern, a Scaly Male Fern or one of the other bipinnates.
Fern lesson 1. Look to see how many pinnate the fern is, in this case it's bi-pinnate. Then, and of course one can't do this from a photograph, turn it over. Look at the sori - the little bundles of sporangia on the rear surface, usually covered with a flap of membrane, which are it's reproductives mechanism. Circular sori = Polysticum, kidney shaped sori = Dryopteris. It's just the same as knowing to look at the sepals on a violet as part of the ID process.
Experience and jizz tells us that this is Dryopteris and it's bi-pinnate form says that it's either D. filix-mas or one of the D. affinis agg. group. In the field one would now look at the underside of the junction between the pinnae and the main stem. Usually, but not conclusively, D affinis has a distinct black dot there, which D. filix-mas does not have. There are other diffrences too which are more difficult to explain without a demonstration. (Plug for my FSC ferns course!).
I rarely disagree with Tim who is a far better botanist that I will ever manage, but I think this is probably D. affinis agg. Overwintering, lots of scales. But it's difficult from a single photograph.
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I would support D. filix-mas despite the scales. There is no sign of the dark spot and the pinnule shape does not look right for affinis agg.
... one of the filix-mas x affinis agg. hyrbids?
To my eye the colour of the scales on the new fronds and the degree of wintergreenness supports affinis agg., but the relative paucity of scales on the old fronds and the absence of a discernable dark spot says otherwise.
[I found what might have been similar plants a few weeks back, but they've been put to one side until I've properly cracked borreri and affinis.]
I`ll try to find this plant again if I get the chance to photograph its underneath and take some other photos. It was an enormous fern which caught my eye,it is high on a bank so I cannot get to the new fronds.
We could all have a play-off at Wembley to decide?
Jamie from Briantspuddle
and if we still disagree can use video footage to see if its really an own goal or not
I don't think this is D. f.-m. From the habit and the way the lowest pinnules on the pinnae are overlapping the rhachis, I'm inclined to go for morph. cambrensis (D. cambrensis sensu Stace 3, if you must). The pictures are quite good but I can't see any of the bits I really want to! I wouldn't rule out a hybrid.
thanks Anthony, affinis group accepted
Lat/Lng: 51.69, -4.7
OS grid ref: SN134024