Cheilanthes bonariensis

Golden cloak fern

Synonym Notholaena aurea

Epithet means "from Buenos Aires."

Evergreen, 1 ft. (30 cm).Zones 8 and 9. Apogamous.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping to erect with dark chocolate-colored, slight stipes to one-fifth of the frond length. The narrow 1- to 11/2-in. (2.5- to 3.8-cm) wide, linear once-pinnate blades have 30 to 40 pairs of many lobed pinnae. The blue-green upper surface is lightly dusted with an occa sional stubby hair. The undersides, however, are magnificently coated with mats of woolly, cream-colored to tan-tinted hairs.

range and habitat: This species is located among acidic rocks and is native to the U.S. Southwest-Mexico border with an extended range down through Central and South America.

culture and comments: My love affair with xeric ferns began when I first saw this fern as Notholaena aurea in the rock garden collection at Oregon's Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery many, many years ago. Its preference for acid soil, versus lime, makes it somewhat easier to introduce to the rock gardens and alpine houses of devoted specialists. Its cultivation is not to be confused with being easy, but when encouraged by good drainage, comparable air circulation, and protection from overhead winter wet, it can be coaxed along.

Cheilanthes buchtienii Buchtien's lip fern Synonym Notholaena buchtienii

Epithet is after Otto Buchtien (1859-1946), a German plant collector in Bolivia.

Evergreen, 6 to 9 in. (15 to 23 cm).Zones (8) 9 and 10.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping, producing upright tufts of 1-in. (2.5-cm) wide, linear fronds on short stipes that are one-fourth of the frond length. The blades are bipin-nate in the basal portions and pinnate-pinnatifid upwards. The whole is coated in a decorative but functional creamy cocoa mass of protective scales. Sori border the frond's edge and are covered with an inward curled lip.

range and habitat: This species is native to rocky sites in Bolivia and Argentina.

Cheilanthes bonariensis in the desert garden at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley.

Cheilanthes buchtienii with cactus at the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley.

culture and comments: For home gardeners container planting with good drainage is recommended. The container can then be moved at will away from damaging winter rain or cold. In the garden or container give the water-seeking roots the cool protection of a rock.

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