Cheilanthes eatonii Eatons lip fern

Epithet is after U.S. botany professor Daniel C. Eaton (1834-1895).

Evergreen, 6 to 18 in. (15 to 45 cm).Zones 6 to 9. Apogamous.

Cheilanthes distans growing at the base of rocks in the Schwartz garden. Photo by David Schwartz.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping, producing deep brown slender stipes one-third of the frond length. Lanceolate blades are narrowly erect and tripinnate to tripin-nate-pinnatifid with 15 to 20 pairs of pinnae enveloped in a fleece of curled silvery hairs above and a blend of cream to tannish hairs and scales below. While all are designed to protect the species from the woes of harsh environmental situations, they are also a visual wonder of Mother Nature at her ornamental adaptive best. sori are marginal within the wrapping of a recurved marginal false indusia.

range and habitat: This species grows on a variety of substrates in the lower southwest of the United States with a disjunct population in Virginia.

culture and comments: Cheilanthes in all of their beautiful configurations do not readily adjust to civilized life away from the wild. This species is easier but still needs the attention of a devoted caretaker. Give it the ever-recommended well-drained, grit-enriched sunlit site away from winter rains. A protective cloche for a winter covering helps to encourage long-term health. The ornamental reward is well worth an extra effort.

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