Dryopteris cristata Crested wood fern

Epithet means "crested," a totally incorrect description. Deciduous to evergreen, 2 ft. (60 cm). Zones 3 to 8.

description: Contrary to the name bestowed by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), this is not a crested fern. The erect fronds, which emerge from a short-creeping rhizome, are about one-third lightly scaly stipe and two-thirds pinnate-pinnatifid, bluish green, narrowly lanceolate blades. The slightly triangular pinnae, which are held parallel to the ground in an open Venetian blind fashion, give this species a unique profile (and the photographer a challenge). Fertile fronds are erect and deciduous, while the low sterile fronds are arching and usually evergreen. The sori are medial and have a kidney-shaped in-dusium.

range and habitat: This species is native across northern, midwestern, and eastern North America as well as Britain

(where it is extremely rare), Central and Northern Europe, including Russia extending eastward to Siberia. It grows naturally in wetlands, meadows, and moist forested areas.

culture and comments: Commonly and easily cultivated in the eastern United States and comparable climates in British and continental gardens, this fern prefers consistently damp sites and rich soil. With its unusual profile, it is a worthy and welcome addition wherever visual variation is desired. The young fronds are subject to breakage, however, and benefit from respectful protection. The plant does not do well in Louisville, Kentucky, style heated summers, wilting even when well watered. Likewise, it shuns attempts at cultivation in coastal gardens in the U.S. West, gradually diminishing in size until it is no more. There are a number of hybrids which can confuse matters in the field.

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