Hybrids are possible between two closely related species and are common in some genera, for example, dryopteris in the eastern United States (where they are avidly pursued for educational purposes on field excursions and prized by gardeners for their unique contribution to collections) and aspleniums worldwide. In appearance hybrids usually reflect the influence of both parents, one or both of which are frequently found in close proximity. Some, however, can be quite challenging to identify and need microscopic examination. (Among other attributes, look for spores that are misshapen or shriveled.) Traditionally hybrids are quite vigorous, often outperforming their parents. While those in the wild are accidents of nature, some hybrids have been purposefully and successfully created in laboratories with specific scientific goals in mind. The techniques can be demanding and are usually beyond the abilities of the home propagator. Due to their chromosome composition, hybrids are almost always sterile and must be reproduced by division or, as is becoming increasingly common, tissue culture.
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