Shaggy shield fern, shaggy wood fern
Epithet means "like a cycad."
Evergreen, 2 to 3 ft. (60 to 90 cm). Zones 5 to 8. Apogamous.
description: The rhizome is short-creeping. The green stipes are about one-third of the frond length and are covered
with dark scales that are especially prominent on the young crosiers. The once-pinnate blades are lanceolate with 20 to 30 pairs of pinnae universally described as leathery and serrate. It is of diagnostic significance that the lower pinnae point strongly downwards and backwards (see photo at left on page 220). The midrib on each pinna is grooved and appears as a contrasting black stripe. The sori are adjacent to the midribs and covered with a kidney-shaped indusium.
range and habitat: The shaggy wood fern grows in dark forests, often streamside, from 5000 to 8000 ft. (1500 to 2400 m) in Japan, southeastern China, and Taiwan.
culture and comments: Growing as a symmetrical fountain of fronds, this two-toned bright-green-and-black duet is a natural beauty in shade and normal, humus-rich fern soil. I find that the blackish new growth provides a welcome visual
contrast as a backdrop for pastel spring flowers. The species is accommodating and readily available throughout the United States and Europe. For many years it has been frequently, and incorrectly, marketed as Dryopteris atrata, a tender native of southern India and lower altitudes in the East Himalayas. There are, however, a number of closely allied Asian species that share a similar skeletal structure and offer ornamental promise to woodland gardeners.
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