Ferns of Alabama is a beautiful, full-color guidebook to the great variety of ferns and fern allies that populate Alabama woods, stream banks, prairies, glades, roadsides, and trails. Along with the ecologically similar but genetically unrelated horsetails, clubmosses, and quillworts, ferns are nonflowering vascular plants of ancient lineages that date back to the Devonian era. Although they are now known to be unrelated, all of these groups of plants were once thought to be part of a single division of the plant kingdom called pteridophytes because of their similarities in reproductive biology, and they are generally studied together. These plants occur in great variety and abundance in Alabama because of the temperate climate, the sufficient year-round moisture, and the multitude of available habitats, soils, and microclimates in the state.
The individual species accounts by John W. Short and Daniel D. Spaulding contain a description of the plant and its habitat, range, history, conservation status, and common names. Color photographs by T. Wayne Barger, Alan Cressler, Sarah R. Johnston, L. J. Davenport, and John W. Short show the ferns in their native settings and black and white line drawings by Marion Montgomery, Sue Blackshear, and John W. Short highlight major features and peculiarities of form. Maps illustrate the county-bycounty distribution of the more than 120 species described. Taxonomic keys designed for the nonscientific user make it easy to pinpoint the identity of a subject being studied in the field, and a glossary explains necessary botanical terms. There is also an appendix by Alan Weakley addressing taxonomic change.