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| Non-flowering plants include ferns, clubmosses, horsetails, mosses, lichens, and fungi. These are spore-producing plants, a major feature distinguishing them from the seed-producing flowering plants. Although the non-flowering plants lack beautiful flowers, you will find that they are attractive and interesting in their own right. Following are some of the common non-flowering plants you are apt to encounter in the waterway.
Ferns are green plants with leaves, often called fronds, that resemble fiddleheads in spring before they unroll. Some that you might encounter are the following: sensitive fern, royal fern, ostrich fern, bracken fern, rusty woodsia fern, and common, or golden polypody, fern.
Clubmosses are perennial, evergreen plants with creeping stems that send up erect branches. Although small, they are much larger than the ordinary mosses they resemble. Three that you should look for on the forest floor are shining clubmoss, stiff or bristly clubmoss, and running pine, also called ground pine or ground cedar.
Horsetails are primitive plants related to ferns and clubmosses that grow in both wet and dry places near streams and in woods and fields in the waterway. As you would expect, their name is derived from their resemblance to a horse's tail. The stem of this plant is jointed with scalelike leaves growing in whorls. One of the most common horsetails you will find in the waterway is a brushy species called field horsetail.
Mosses are tiny green plants that grow on soil, rocks, and trees. You will usually find them in moist places, such as swamps and bogs. Some common mosses you will see in the waterway are sphagnum, or peat, mosses in bogs and swamps, haircap mosses on damp ground, and pin cushion mosses in moist woods on soil and decayed wood.
Lichens are a combination of an alga and a fungus. Some that you might find in the waterway are the following: green map lichen (a crustose lichen that grows on rocks and ledges); lung lichen (a foliose lichen that grows on trees and resembles a lung); and old man's beard (a fructicose lichen that looks like a gray-yellow beard hanging from the dead branches of trees, especially coniferous trees).
Emetic russula in sphagnum moss with creeping snowberry
Fungi are organisms that lack chlorophyll and must obtain their food from dead matter or other living organisms. A fungus consists of fine threads, called hyphae, that grow underground or invade a host. The network of hyphae is called the mycelium. A mushroom is a fleshy part of the mycelium that produces spores. Mushrooms come in many shapes and sizes, from shelf, or bracket, fungi to puffballs. Some that you might find in the waterway are chantarelle, clubfoot clitocybe, fly agaric, and king boletus.