This is a common winter sight near wetter areas in Pennsylvania — the fertile fronds of sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis).
The green fronds (which are sterile) are gone this time of year, having succumbed to the first signs of frost months ago (hence the name “sensitive”).
Even if nature isn’t our thing, we can still appreciate this species… because… sensitive fern may hold value in modern medicine. Research suggests that an ethanol extract from this species has the potential to prevent atherosclerosis — a pretty serious condition which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Of course, many lifestyle habits can help to prevent atherosclerosis, though remember — nature is certainly no stranger when it comes to offering (the best) solutions.
Anyway, check out sensitive fern on your next walk around the pond!