Cheilanthes feei slender lip fern

Epithet is after French botanist Antoine Fée (1789-1874). Evergreen, 6 to 10 in. (15 to 25 cm).Zones 5 to 8. Apogamous.

Upright fronds of Cheilanthes eatonii among rocks in the Horder garden.

The underside of a fertile frond on Cheilanthes farinosa showing the namesake white farina.

Cheilanthes fendleri silhouetted against a stump in the Carstensen garden.
A colony of Cheilanthes feei on the east side of the Ladronas Mountains, Soccoro County, New Mexico. Photo by David Schwartz.

The West Coast native Cheilanthes gracillima in customized soil in a container.

Cheilanthes gracillima var. aberrans in the Schwartz garden. Photo by David Schwartz.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping with densely packed bundles of small 8-in. (20-cm) fronds. The stipes are one-half the length of the frond, blackish-brown with a hairy white trim. Lanceolate, bipinnate-pinnatifid, dull bluish-green blades with approximately eight pairs of pinnae are rather beady. The lower surface bears long creamy tan hairs that are sparsely present on the upper surface as well. Sori are continuous around the margins with an inrolled false indusium.

range and habitat: The slender lip fern spills on both sides of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. It is a fern of limestone cliffs. (Look for it in crevices on the vertical walls of Montezuma's Well in Arizona.)

culture and comments: Here is a fern to admire as it clings tenaciously to cliffs and ledges. it is cold hardy, but not easily cultivated.

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