NS3875 : Royal Fern colony

taken 11 years ago, near to Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

Royal Fern colony
Royal Fern colony
The ferns are growing high up on Brucehill Cliffs, which are part of a Local Nature Conservation Site; see NS3875 : Brucehill Cliffs and Havoc Grassland for details (and for the context).

The work that is cited there notes that the cliffs, which are of red sandstone, "are almost constantly wet, and the dripping water sustains an interesting floral community, most notably the locally rare royal fern the largest colony in West Dunbartonshire. The ferns are rooted directly into the cliff faces."

In "A Natural History of Britain's Ferns" (1988), Christopher N. Page devotes a section to "Cliff-face Royal Fern Communities"; he notes there that where the Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) "is present in cliffside habitats it usually occurs mainly as very numerous but mostly juvenile plants ... Only occasional plants have fertile fronds ...", and he mentions that, although sometimes the ferns occur singly at such sites, "where the spread of run-off water creates fairly large areas of permanently damp rock, quite dense colonies with numerous plants may occur".

That description fits this environment very well; no fertile fronds were apparent when I took this photograph (contrast SD3382 : Royal Fern and SW3728 : Marshy field, Nanquidno valley, where some typically narrow, upright, brownish fertile fronds can be seen in the centre of the clumps).

Page also notes that acidic, peaty run-off water can provide a suitable cliffside habitat for Osmunda regalis (Royal Fern), while lime-rich run-off is suitable for Adiantum capillus-veneris (Maidenhair Fern).
Brucehill Cliffs and Havoc Grassland

The site is, as of 2015, a Local Nature Conservation Site (LNCS), and a proposed Local Nature Reserve (LNR). It is host to a variety of butterflies and grassland plants. The area is a raised beach, with former sea-cliffs now standing inland. Between the cliffs and the Clyde shore is Havoc Grassland; maps from shortly before the Second World War show "Allotment Gardens" there. The adjacent shore is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

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NS3875, 118 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Friday, 1 July, 2011   (more nearby)
Tuesday, 12 July, 2011
Geographical Context
Geological interest 
Plant (from Tags)
Royal Fern 
Image Buckets ?
CloseCrop  Life 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 382 754 [100m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.6651N 4:35.5247W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 382 753
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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