Dryopteris xaustralis Dixie wood fern

Dryopteris celsa x D. ludoviciana. Epithet means "southern."

Semievergreen, 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 to 1.5 m). Zones (4) 5 to 9.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping and branches modestly. The stipe is one-third of the frond length, and the creamy green, lanceolate blades are pinnate-pinnatifid. There are 16 to 20 pairs of pinnae with the "fertile" upper portions reduced in size and bearing abortive spores.

range and habitat: Like its parents, this fern is native to dampish areas of the southeastern swath of the United States.

Dryopteris arguta is a dependable evergreen Pacific Northwest native for acidic woodlands.

The tall Dryopteris Xaustralis in a garden setting. Notice that the upper frond, which houses the abortive spores, narrows abruptly towards the apex.

culture and comments: This is a popular, easy, and desirable garden plant that is especially useful as a vertical component in the moist woodland bed. The planting site should be protected from prevailing winds. The foliage reclines but remains green well into winter. Although southern in origin, it is quite hardy in cold regions and adapts to high summer heat locales as well. Young fronds are considered a consumable by untended slug populations, but subsequent growth is more durable and defiant. Until recently this sterile hybrid was propagated only by division, which is still the practical choice for sharing a robust garden specimen with fellow enthusiasts. Since the early 2000s, however, successful tissue culture has brought it to the mass market where it is welcome indeed.

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