Christmas and the Rubber Tree

The fern growing in clusters along the trail is Christmas Fern. New fronds stand upright while older ones lie flat, often encircling the new growth. Its name has two origins: some say this fern was used for Christmas decorations because it is evergreen. Others say the shape of the pinnae (“leaflets”) resembles Christmas stockings.

Growing on the opposite side of the trail is Leatherwood, a shrub whose amazingly flexible branches give rise to its name. In spring, yellow flowers decorate the shrubs before their leaves open. The presence of Leatherwood and Christmas Fern reveal that the soil here is rich with nutrients.