Friday, October 12, 2012

Gathering Woodwardia Fern

Woodwardia fern dyed with alder bark is used as an overlay material in our basketry designs. It is the largest fern, standing 4-6 feet tall.  As with most ferns, it loves moisture.  It can be gathered any time in the Summer-Fall after it has reached maturity and before it freezes.  Only a few stalks are taken from each plant.  The fronds are removed at the gathering site so the spores can regenerate.  The stalks are then pounded with a rock, or my “modern” method is to crush them with a rolling pin.  Inside are two white cords running the length of the stalk.  The cords are removed and bundled to dry. The next step is dying the cords a beautiful rust-red from the bark of an alder tree.
I had to find a new gathering spot this year because the spot I have gathered the past few years was burned by a forest fire.  Following, I have taken pictures of the burned area and the new growth that is already sprouting from the plants.  I think next year I will be able to gather at this site again. 
Last year's woodwardia patch coming back after
a summer forest fire.
Close up of charred plants with new growth.
New patch.
The fronds are removed at the gathering site.
Tall ferns.
Gathering basket material is often a family affair.
My son and husband (and dogs) helped on this trip.
Crushing the stalk with a rolling pin so the cords
can be removed.
I use the two white cords running the length of the stalk.
Removing the cords.

The two cords removed.

Happy the work is done.

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