Arachniodes standishii Upside down fern

Epithet is perhaps after John Standish (1814-1875), a British nurseryman who imported from Japan. Evergreen, 2 to 3 ft. (60 to 90 cm).Zones 5 to 9.

description: The rhizome creeps slowly. Grooved pea-green stipes are one-third of the frond length. The stipe scales are a dark russet and especially prevalent on new growth. Broadly ovate blades, produced in a more vaselike arrangement than other arachniodes, are tripinnate-pinnatifid to, rarely, quadripinnate with 10 to 18 pairs of borderline glassy, matte green pinnae. As is typical for the genus, the innermost lower pinnules on the basal pinnae are enlarged although not so exaggerated as in related species. The sori with kidney-shaped indusia are medial and, when spores are produced at all, ripen annoyingly late in the season.

range and habitat: Arachniodes standishii grows in mountainous forests in Korea, possibly China, and in Japan, where it is common in Cryptomeria forests (Iwatsuki et al. 1995). The Korean material, which tends to be larger, was introduced to cultivation in the United States by Richard Lighty of Pennsylvania.

culture and comments: This species is easier to grow than it is to obtain. The long evergreen fronds arch gracefully over companions in lightly shaded, slightly moist woodlands. Upside down fern? There are a number explanations as to the why of the common name, including having veins and/or sori prominently visible on the upper surface of the frond as opposed to the underside or "down" side of the frond, not a dreadfully unusual occurrence.

The late ripening spores can be fooled into dropping. My late husband, noting my frustration one December, suggested picking a fertile pinna, wrapping it securely in white paper and heating it under the gentle warmth of an incandescent bulb. Not only did I have spores to sow the next morning, I had an unusually good crop of progeny. In general, only a small percentage of the spores germinate, although growers in the eastern United States have a higher rate of success. Until it comes from tissue culture, this species is not likely to flood the market.

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