Cheilanthes covillei Covilles lip fern

Epithet is after Frederick Coville (1867-1937), chief botanist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Evergreen, 6 to 12 in. (15 to 30 cm).Zones 7 to 9.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping. Coffee-brown, rounded stipes are up to one-half of the length of the frond. The lanceolate tripinnate blades have 10 to 12 pairs of pinnae with beady segments. The upper surface is glabrous, but the rachis and midveins of the pinnae undersides have small, overlapping, ovate scales with a heart-shaped base. Sori with false indusia are continuous around the margins.

range and habitat: Coville's lip fern is tucked in rocky cliffs or ledges usually on igneous rocks in desert areas of the U.S. Southwest, northern Mexico, and Baja California.

culture and comments: This species is especially suited to pot culture in bright light with a fast-draining mix. In nature it is accustomed to summer rains but not much winter wet. It should be situated according. This species resembles Cheilanthes fendleri but can be separated (with great difficulty) based on the underside scales, which in C. covillei are hair-tipped and strongly heart-shaped at the base. Cheilanthes fendleri has matching scales but no hairlike extensions and only a mildly heart-shaped base. In addition, the rhizome on C. fendleri is long-creeping.

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