Dryopteris fragrans Fragrant cliff fern

Epithet means "fragrant."

Evergreen, 6 to 10 in. (15 to 25 cm) tall by 2 in. (5 cm) wide.Zones 3 to 8.

Tassels on Dryopteris filix-mas 'Cristata Martindale' in the Bradner garden.

A frond of Dryopteris formosana. Note the extended lower pinnules.

Crisped and crested foliage of Dryopteris filix-mas 'Parsley' in the Schieber garden.

A frond of Dryopteris formosana. Note the extended lower pinnules.

Crisped and crested foliage of Dryopteris filix-mas 'Parsley' in the Schieber garden.

description: The rhizome is noticeably stout in proportion to the size of this small plant, and the stubby bases of the spent fronds are persistent. The frond stipes are less than one-quarter of the frond length and densely clothed in brown scales. The narrow blade is pinnate-pinnatifid to bipinnate and glandular, giving off a fragrance consistently described in various floral terms ranging from violet to raspberry and less flatteringly as "distinctive." It is abundantly fertile with medial sori that are covered by a kidney-shaped indusium.

range and habitat: Here is a truly northern species with a native habitat spreading across the extremes from north temperate to arctic areas. It prefers well-drained rocky screes often enriched with, but not requiring, limestone.

culture and comments: This species is particular and fussy in adapting to a lowland habitat. Like many alpines it can be co

The dwarf alpine Dryopteris fragrans in its preferred setting among rocks.

erced into cultivation in the cool garden community given a rocky niche and that magical ingredient, drainage. It will not do in warm or humid climates in spite of the best of efforts. Where acclimated, it is also a handsome upright sprig among the buns in the alpine-oriented trough or scree. It is used for making tea in Russia and Alaska, so if all else fails, steep a frond or two to impress your fern-minded friends. In overall appearance this species can easily be mistaken for one of the lower growing woodsias. Look for the tufted and persistent stipe bases, the kidney-shaped indusium, and the evergreen inclination as distinguishing features of Dryopteris fragrans. By contrast the deciduous woodsias with their embedded sori wrapped in an origami star-shaped indusium are early to bed and early to rise.

Var. remotiuscula is easier to grow and larger in all of its dimensions than the type. It is highly recommended horticul-turally although not always acknowledged as botanically distinct.

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