Ferns on fire

Today we were treated to a great lecture on ferns by Dr. Heather McHaffie, MBE. Dr. McHaffie is a naturally enthusiastic teacher, and it was pure joy to be in her presence for a few hours. 

Near dusk, which is around 3:30 p.m. these days in Scotland, we went into the empty arid greenhouse for a magic trick. Dr. McHaffie had a squeeze-ball full of Lycopodium powder consisting of dry spores derived from fern-like plants. When lit by a match these oil-rich spore ignite into a glorious fireball. Lycopodium powder has been used for fireworks, flashbulbs, and magicians' tricks. We all had a go at shooting fire from our fingertips in what felt like a sacred circular rite.

The takeaway?

Ferns are great.