Rolled Up

Each Spring, the plant life of the Indiana Dunes National Park begins to emerge after a long winter absence. I look forward to the changes seen at this time, especially in the wetlands in Cowles Bog. While the area is known as Cowles Bog, it's not a bog at all, it's an area of wooded dunes and it includes a large wetland - part of the Great Marsh of the National Park. The Great Marsh is a wetland about nine miles long by a quarter mile wide, on the leeward side of the dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan. While a lot of the marsh has been filled in or drained, much of it still exists.


Following the emergence of skunk cabbage, these ferns seem to be the the next interesting plant to begin poking through the wet soil. As they begin sprouting, the ferns produce a fiddlehead about the size of a nickel. They slowly unfurl over the next couple of weeks into ferns almost two feet in length.

An interesting thing about the fiddleheads I found, is that inside the round head, you can see tiny leaves that look exactly like the mature fern leaf. And as they unfold, these leaves grow into the individual parts of each fern leaf. They each seem to unroll just as the entire leaf unrolled from the fiddlehead.


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