Dryopteris bissetiana Beaded wood fern

Synonym Dryopteris varia var. setosa

Epithet is after botanist James Bisset (1843-1911).

Evergreen, 1 to 2 ft. (30 to 60 cm). Zones 5 to 9. Apogamous.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping and produces a vase of ornamental fronds that are one-third stipe and two-thirds deep green, ovate, bipinnate to tripinnate blades. There are 15 or more pairs of pinnae with the pinnules closest to the rachis on the lowest pair (basiscopic) disproportionately longer than surrounding pinnules. The new growth is lightly and briefly flushed silver and emerges late (sometimes very late) in the spring. The pinnule segments are small and beady. Sori are evenly distributed and covered with kidney-shaped indusia.

range and habitat: Like so many of the truly ornamental dryopteris, this species is from the woodlands of Korea, China, and Japan where it is commonly found from forests to roadsides.

culture and comments: While sturdy, this very attractive fern offers lightness to the fern bed. it is easily established in any shaded situation. Over the years it has been confused with closely and not so closely related Japanese species, sometimes Dryopteris erythrosorabut more often with D. varia. Botanists separate them based on two characteristics, one being the color of the stipe scales, which are reddish brown on D. varia and black to blackish-brown on D. bissetiana. The other distinction is that the upper frond portions of D. varia narrow suddenly, whereas those of D. bissetiana narrow gradually. Both species are quite handsome.

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