Here at West Dean there are many Hart’s Tongue ferns tucked away in corners of the gardens and more up along the forest walk where I went today on my day between courses. I walked for about two hours over the downs, through forests and fields, towards Trundle Hill following a bridle path which hugs the old flint walls of West Dean College. These little ferns are so pretty and the curly shape of the new ribbon-like fronds is lovely to draw. Unusual among ferns for its broad leaf the Latin name is “Phyllitis scolopendrium”. Scolopendrium means ‘centipede-like’ and refers to the spores or sori that develop under the leaves in lines that look like little centipedes.
The new and unfolding leaves of ferns are referred to as fiddleheads.. you can see why below!