Deep in the undergrowth, the ferns spread their large fronds to capture as much sunlight as possible. Most species found in Quebec are of this type.
Their rhizomes of the epiphytic ferns cling to tree branches and trunks reaching toward the sunlight in the canopy. They remain in the shade of tall trees, however, where the air is moister. It’s the best of both worlds!
More rarely, on forest edges or in some open areas, you may come across some ferns anchored in the soil but with constantly growing fronds that climb tree trunks and twine around branches. Some of these ferns can be terribly invasive.
A “trunk” raises these ferns above herbaceous plants. They grow in the midst of clearings in the forest, to take advantage of all the available sunlight. Some species are taller than the surrounding vegetation, stretching toward the sun.
These ferns are often small and grow on rock slabs, scree and steep cliffs, hidden in cracks or at the base of crevices. The scales on their rhizomes protect them from drying out and their thicker fronds, covered in scales or hairs, help retain moisture.
Some ferns grow directly in water, usually in calm, shallow spots. Their roots may be firmly anchored to the bottom or float freely on the surface. This gives them ready access to sunlight.
In places without much water, ferns have smaller, thicker fronds, often covered in hairs or a waxy substance that helps prevent water loss. Their rhizomes are protected by scales and can stretch for long distances in search of water and nutrients.