Phegopteris hexagonoptera — broad beech fern

October 2020

Pressed fern herbarium specimens

Mississippi State Herbarium Specimen number: MISSA001129
Collector: A.B. Langlois

Phegopteris hexagonoptera — broad beech fern. Collected in the Mississippi Delta north of New Orleans in 1880, this fern is one of more than 5,000 specimens in Mississippi State’s MISSA herbarium that date to the 19th century. At the time, a fern craze gripped the United Kingdom, and extended its influence to a lesser degree in the United States, as evidenced by the decorative arts of the period. Museum specimens like this one document organisms as a much longer and broader record than could be achieved by direct experimental approaches, extending our fine-scale knowledge of plant diversity to the Italian Renaissance and allowing scientists to document processes like climate change and changes in genetic variation through time.

 


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