Monday, September 28, 2020

Asplenium trichomanes – Another Bergamo Wall Plant

Asplenium trichomanes botanical drawing (www.biolib.de).Asplenium trichomanes in a wall on Via Tassis in the Upper City of Bergamo.The spore containing structures (sori) of Aspleninum trichomanes.
Left: Asplenium trichomanes botanical drawing (www.biolib.de).
Center: Asplenium trichomanes in a wall on Via Tassis in the Upper City of Bergamo.
Right: The spore containing structures (sori) of Aspleninum trichomanes.

We admit it: we are thinking about walls a lot these days. We live in a walled city whose fame rests on having 6.2 km of massive walls surrounding its upper city, Città Alta. Those walls were built by the Venetians in the 16th century. Almost daily, we are walking on and through Bergamo's Venetian walls.

Once inside the upper city, there are a maze of streets that lead you to the Piazza Vecchia, and all of them involve navigating between walls of various types. And lucky for us, interesting plants grow on walls so we are never bored. In the past, we posted about such plants: The Flower that Grows on Walls - Cymbalaria muralis, Pennywort and Pellitory of the Wall (Parietaria judaica). We are back this time with another wort plant, this time Maidenhair spleenwort.

Wort is an ancient English term that simply means "plant". When put together with the name of a part of the body – spleen in this case – it generally meant that the plant was thought to cure problems with that body part. In the case of Maidenhair spleenwort, the sori on the back of the fronds are spleen shaped. 

The wort naming of plants is part of the doctrine of signatures, today considered pseudoscience. Other plant examples with wort in their common name include lungwort, woundwort, toothwort, and liverwort.

Maidenhair spleenwort, Asplenium trichomanes, is a small fern in the the genus Asplenium. On first glance, it looks like what is commonly called a maidenhair fern (genus Adiantum) but that’s in the family Pteridaceae. The spleenwort is however in the same genus as the bird's-nest ferns (A. nidus) commonly sold as house plants. For Maidenhair spleenwort, you must content yourself with finding some walls to enjoy them, and all the better if they are walls in an Italian city like Bergamo.



Maidenhair spleenwort in the botanical garden of Bergamo.Maidenhair spleenwort on Via Noca, Bergamo.Maidenhair spleenwort on Via Noca, Bergamo.
Left: Maidenhair spleenwort in the botanical garden of Bergamo.
Center and right: Maidenhair spleenwort on Via Noca, Bergamo.


Examples of Asplenium trichomanes - Maidenhair spleenwort.Examples of Asplenium trichomanes - Maidenhair spleenwort.
Examples of Asplenium trichomanes - Maidenhair spleenwort.


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