Microsorum (small sori) is a tropical and subtropical genus with a worldwide collection of 50 or so primarily epiphytic species with straplike fronds or slight variations thereof. Some are quite willing candidates for cultivation in the consistently warm conditions of Southern California and Florida.
Microsorum musifolium is one of the more august of the strap-leaved polypods. Native to Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and New Guinea, it reaches 30 in. (75 cm) tall in my tropical highland garden and is taller in the lowland. It is colored pale green with a low gloss. This disheveled fern patch, fronds criss-crossing and torqued, with both upper and lower surfaces at once in view, displays simultaneously a mullioned windowlike pattern of black leaf veins at top and a copious stud pattern of orange-yellow spore dots underneath. This species is the biggest of four native polypod ferns that have shown up as surprises in my garden, arriving as wind-borne
The wild, parental form of Microsorum punctatum flanked by Neoregelia bromeliads and overseen by an Ifugao tribal idol. A frond of Angiopteris palmiformis brushes the idol's left shoulder, and water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) floats in the bowl he embraces. Photo by George Schenk.
spores. Sporelings have established themselves mainly on moss-covered stonework from which—at times when inspiration or mayhem overwhelms the gardener's mind—they are easy to peel off, root system about 99 percent intact, clip into divisions, and replant in open ground, sun or shade, wherever the garden needs another fern. (Description by George Schenk.)
Microsorum punctatum. Practically pantropical and pan-subtropical, save for its absence as a native of the Americas, this is another of the polypods that has come into my garden on its own. It forms a bright, light green spread of linear fronds to 2 ft. (60 cm) tall in my highland garden and stands as much as twice that in the lowland. The species has a number of named mutants. (Description by George Schenk.)
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