Astrolepis cochisensis

Jimmyfern - Astrolepis cochisensis
 Near the west entrance to the Percha Box
Hillsboro, New Mexico
April 10, 2016

This specimen of Astrolepis cochisensis (a.k.a. Jimmyfern and Cochise Scaly Cloak Fern) was found near the western entrance of the Percha Box on the east side of the Black Range, during the survey for Geologic Ramble Two.  It was found on the top of an outcrop of Lake Valley Limestone.  There are two subspecies, A. c. cochisensis (which has spore cases containing 32 spores) and A. c. chihuahuensis (which has spore cases of 64 spores).  This according to Flora Neomexicana III - An Illustrated Identification Manual by Kelly W. Allred and Robert DeWitt Ivey.

Flora of North America, identifies a third subspecies, A. c. arizonica, which is not found in our area.  It describes the speciation as “three cytotypes that occupy different ranges and/or habitats have been identified and are treated here as subspecies”.  Noting the complexity of such evolutionary change the Flora of North America entry notes that “other taxa remain to be discovered within the Astrolepis cochisensis complex.

The specimen shown below was collected by Edward Palmer on August 29, 1904.  The original description of the plant as Notholaena cochisensis was performed by Leslie Newton Goodding. Later, Benham & Windham described a new genus and this particular specimen was described as A. c. chihuahuaensis by Dale M. Benham in 1989.  Edward Palmer (1830-1911) was ”an English born American botanist, naturalist, explorer, archaeologist, ethnobotanist, and plant collector”.  Palmer was a fantastic naturalist during an era of greats.

In Additional Taxa in Astrolepis, Benham described the full genus (first described in 1988) in detail.

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