Hainault Forest Website

Written, Designed and Photographed by Brian Ecott


Ferns and Horsetails





Asplenium scolopendrium


Uncommon in the forest. Found on damp brickwork and on stream banks and on the Reservoir site.

Hart's tongue fern is small and has simple strap-like fronds 30-100mm in length which unroll as they develop. The spore producing sori are arranged in oblique lines on each side of the midrib on the underside of the fronds (left).





Pteridium aquilinum


A common fern in the forest in the wooded areas and open spaces within the woodland especially under Silver birches. It is invasive and difficult to control and is a serious pest in Britain. It occurs worldwide.

The whole plant dies down in autumn with the first frosts and the new vegetative frond unfurls in the spring.

The large triangular compound frond which can be up to 2 metres in height is described as tripinnate, meaning that it has divided three times (right). Part of the background has been removed to highlight the single frond Rarely produces spores in woodland.






Dryopteris filix-mas

Common throughout the forest especially in the damper, shadier parts of the woodland. Fronds ascend and arch, giving the plant a shuttlecock appearance. They can be up to a metre in length and are widest in the middle. The frond is divided into 20-40 pinnae. Each pinna (right) is broad at the base and tapers to a point. Each pinna is divided into pinnules. On fertile fronds the pinnules have 2 rows of kidney shaped sori on the underside. These contain the spores.





Dryopteris dilatata

Common in the forest especially in the shadier parts on the slopes behind the farm. Fronds can be up to 1 metre in length although usually 30-40cm. One third of the frond is stalk. Fronds arch and are more or less triangular in shape, deep green colour and tripinnate (i.e. divided three times). The first division produces a pinna (right). These are further divided into pinnules, and then pinnulets. On the stalk are scales and those particularly near the base are pale brown and have a dark brown line running through them (see below) which distinguishes the plant from other Buckler ferns.









Polystichum setiferum

Uncommon in the forest. This scan was made from a plant near Roe's Well.  The fronds  are 30-40cm. and bright green. They are bi-pinnate, and widest in the middle.  About one-quarter of the frond is stalk covered in fine, light brown scales. The pinna are divided into pinnules (right) which have a small stalk and are mitten shape. The prominent "thumb" running more or less parallel with the midrib of the pinna


Above, part of the underside of a fertile pinna showing the mitten-like pinnules with two rows of rounded sori.



martin bell



FIELD HORSETAIL Equisetum arvense.

Found in the hedge, ditch and bank which runs from the second car park to the lake.