Northern maidenhair five finger fern

Epithet means "palmate" or "pedate," as in a bird's foot. Deciduous, 1V2 to 2 ft. (45 to 60 cm).Zones 3 to 8.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping. Brittle stipes are purple-black and usually one-half the length of the frond.

Adiantum pedatum 'Miss Sharpies'with Acerpalmatum HO 19.

They fork into two major branches that curl in an indeterminate recurved circular pattern. The six to eight pinnae per branch become progressively smaller, eventually forming a small curlicue. Note that, unlike Adiantum aleuticum, there is rarely a single fan-shaped pinnule between pinnae segments on the rachis. Another feature of importance in separating these species is the continuous semicircular outline of the horizontal blade, which has only a slightly extended middle pinna compared to the significantly longer comparable pinna typically present on A. aleuticum. Thirty or more pairs of pinnules on very short stalks are rectangular with serrate upper edges, but smooth margins on the remaining borders. Oblong sori with inrolled indusia are contained in four or five marginal segments. (See also comments at A. aleuticum.)

range and habitat: This North American native is found in moist deciduous woods from midwestern regions to the Atlantic Coast. Not surprisingly, alert British colonists, recognizing a good thing, sent plants home. it was one of the first North American fern exports, although not so profitable as those "funny" leaves (tobacco) exported from Virginia.

culture and comments: At one time the Adiantum pedatum classification included most of the fan-fronded material native to North America. (Adiantum aleuticum, the western native, is now considered a separate species, although quite difficult to distinguish from A.pedatum.) Woodland compost

Adiantum pedatum in the wild.

is an ideal provision along with regular water, good drainage, and light shade. Observant growers on both coasts have found that A. pedatum emerges a week or two before A. aleuticum and correspondingly disappears earlier in the fall. Adiantum pedatum is also shorter. Western slugs, with their ever-present fondness for choice plants, find the new growth attractive and must be lured away. This species is easily grown from spores and readily propagated from divisions.

'Miss Sharpies' is a deciduous cultivar that unfurls quite early in the season in warm tones of lime-green. The fronds that mature at 8 to 15 in. (20 to 38 cm) are broad fans of soft billowy, slightly overlapping 3/4- to 1-in. (2- to 2.5-cm) long pinnules. This form stands out in the garden's maidenhair glen as a fluffy contrast to the traditional structure of both the U.S. native species. Protect it from sunshine and keep it moist, but not wet. The original selection was given to Britain's charming, expert fern nurseryman-author, the late Reginald Kaye, by the Sharples family and tagged "Miss Sharples" for reference purposes by Reg. Some spores disappeared from the nursery, however, and the name along with them. The progeny subsequently appeared commercially and have been widely distributed ever since as 'Miss Sharples'. (Since Adiantum aleu-ticum was not known to be present in Britain at the time, it is presumed that the Sharples gal was a variant of A. pedatum.) The happy ending is that her legacy carries on across the continents along with her namesake cultivar.

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