Worldwide there are 50 to 60 of these bramble ferns native primarily to Southeast Asia and islands of the South Pacific. They have long-creeping, branching rhizomes that can become aggressive when too happy. The deciduous fronds are much divided and tall. Sori are marginal and under a recurved flap or toothlike indusium. In Southern California, they are popular for use as ground covers or container plantings. Multiply them by division or propagate from spores. The genus name means "under scale," in reference to the protected sori.
Hypolepis millefolium (thousand leaved) is an emerald green, furry tripinnate-pinnatifid deciduous species with triangular fronds and long-creeping rhizomes. At 2 ft. (60 cm) it is one of the shortest in the genus. Native to subalpine areas in
New Zealand, it is also one of the hardiest and useful in Zones 7 to 10. Provide good drainage, partial shade, moisture, and acid to neutral soil.
Hypolepispunctata (spotted), an import from Asia, Australia, and New Zealand as well as Chile, has deciduous bipin-nate-pinnatifid to tripinnate-pinnatifid blades on fronds up to 4 ft. (1.2 m). It is for Zones 8 to 10 where it will tolerate some sun so long as it has wet feet. It can be invasive.
Hypolepis repens (creeping), the bramble fern, can bramble up to 6 ft. (1.8 m) from spreading rhizomes. It is deciduous with tripinnate to quadripinnate fronds and spines along the stipe and rachis. Found in Florida and tropical America it is the only Hypolepis native to the United States. Easily grown in damp to wet seeping soils or woodlands, it is best when controlled or containerized in Zones 9 and 10.
Hypolepis rugosula (with small wrinkles), the ruddy ground fern, from the Southern Hemisphere, forms thickets of deciduous 3- to 5-ft. (90- to 150-cm), coarse, triangular, tripinnate fronds in its preferred moist to wet habitats. The dark green foliage is supported by "ruddy" stipes and rachises. It can be cultivated in Zones 7 (with protection) to 10 but is best contained as, like most of the genus, the rhizomes can assertively expand the fern's dominance into surrounding territory.
Hypolepis tenuifolia (slender leaved), from the South Pacific and Asia, has deciduous bipinnate-pinnatifid to tri-pinnate-pinnatifid blades on fronds to 4 ft. (1.2 m). They are somewhat glandular and grow in colonies from creeping rhizomes in moist shade in Zones 9 and 10. Material in the trade may actually be a different species.
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