Ferns on Moors and Coast

Fern in sharp lighting

The lower slopes of the Yorkshire moors can be thickly covered with bracken (one of many ferns). Despite some belief to the contrary it has been shown that any increase is slow but it is still an invasive species. Gone are the days when it was valued and cut as bedding for horses and cattle, now it only seems fit for breeding insects.

Among several Yorkshire ferns are the attractive upland Lemon-scented Fern and the beech fern Phegopteris connectilis which is now very rare in West Yorkshire.

Ferns Growing in Yorkshire

  • Bracken fern
  • Broad Buckler-fern Dryopteris dilatata
  • Hart’s-tongue fern grows on the limestone pavement in the Yorkshire Dales
  • Lady Fern Athyrium felix-femina is one of the larger ferns
  • Lemon-scented Fern
  • Male Fern Dryopteris filix-mas found in woods and under shade.
  • Adder’s-tongue Fern which grows in old grasslands, hillsides, woodland and on sand dunes


Fossil Fern of Yorkshire

  • The North Yorkshire coast is one the most important sites for fossils from the Cretaceous and Jurassic period.
  • Many of the plant fossils from North Yorkshire belong to the group of the ferns.
  • ‘One of the most common ferns is Todites williamsonii, a representative of the Osmundaceae family, which includes also the living Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)’ Read more and see photos
  • From whitby you can reach the Saltwick Formation and between Middlesborough and Bridlington other plant fossils can be seen at the Claughton ‘Gristhorpe Member’ and the ‘Scalby Formation’.

Fossilised frond from a seed fern, Alethopteris, GL1339

Fern in sharp lighting by Mirror | imaging reality CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Bracken by Anita363 CC BY-NC 2.0 Bracken growing like swathes over the hills
Fossilised frond from a seed fern, Alethopteris, GL1339 by Black Country Museums CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Ferns by amandabhslater CC BY-SA 2.0


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