Dryopteris uniformis

Epithet means "one shape."

description: Fresh warm green fronds emerge in early spring from the erect rhizome. The grooved stipes are one-fourth of the frond length and unfurl from an effervescent bowl of persistent blackish-brown scales. The prominent ebony stipe scales are basally sheltered by green cloaks. Ovate-triangular blades are bipinnate with 12 to 18 pairs of lanceolate pinnae. Fertile pinnae are produced exclusively on the narrowed upper third of the blade and do not wither when the spores are dispersed. The medial sori are covered with kidney-shaped indusia.

range and habitat: Dryopteris uniformis is a native of forested mountain areas of Japan, Korea, and China.

culture and comments: Easily grown in shaded, moist woodlands, this fern unfurls in concert and harmony with the early spring emergence of epimediums and pulmonarias under canopies of forsythia, chimonanthus, and fellow harbingers of the season. Together they make welcome compositions for the traditionally much desired and anticipated arrival of winter's end.

'Cristata' (crested), with forked and crested foliar tips, was introduced to Western horticulture in the late 1990s and combines well with the type. Both adjust to cultivation in cold area gardens as well as the warmer settings of Southern California.

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