Pellaea glabella Smooth cliff brake

Epithet means "smooth."

Evergreen, 4 to 14 in. (10 to 35 cm). Zones 3 to 8.Apogamous.

description: The rhizome is short-creeping. Plum-brown stipes are one-half of the frond length and smooth with an insignificant and fleeting dusting of hairs. Blades are lanceolate with stalked bipinnate lower pinnae and sessile, once-pinnate upper pinnae on four to nine pairs of pinnae. Sori are enclosed in the inrolled false marginal indusia. Botanists have divided this species into four subspecies. See Flora of North America (1993) for technical details.

range and habitat: Pellaea glabella grows naturally in limestone crevices and mortared wall slices from midwestern to eastern areas of the united States. it also appears in random disjunct sites in the Rocky Mountains and western states. A limestone substrate is the common denominator.

culture and comments: Once established, and this is the challenge, this petite blue-green species will tolerate full sun in cloudy coastal haunts of the western United States and almost full sun elsewhere. i recommend a planting compost of two parts lava rock, one part light compost, and one part a mixed balance of bark, crushed concrete, and charcoal (or whatever gritty additives suit your personal preference). This has

Pellaea glabella on a bridge abutment in Pennsylvania.

worked for me in a half whiskey barrel, sheltered from winter rains under the eaves of the house. Chunks of rocks are added for a beneficial cool root run.

Pellaea rotundifolia Button fern

Epithet means "rounded foliage."

Evergreen, 6 to 18 in. (15 to 45 cm). Zones 8 (with lots of protection) and 9.

description: The rhizome is creeping. Coffee-colored stipes are bristled with rusty hairs and scales and usually one-third of the frond length. The linear blade is once-pinnate, bearing 30 or more pairs of glossy, widely spaced, short-stalked, round globes of pinnae. The fronds arch in horizontal layers of shiny green leaflets. Sori with inrolled false marginal indusia encircle the pinnae margins but significantly do not meet at the apices, which bear a small needlelike tip. Button fern can be propagated by both division and spores.

range and habitat: This species is a New Zealand endemic and one of its most welcomed ferny exports. It is found in light scrub, dry forests, and occasionally in moist rainforest habitats.

culture and comments: A healthy and well-grown button fern is an extremely attractive addition to the indoor fern collection or the patio pot displays and foreground focal points in temperate Zone 9 gardens. It requires an acid and well-drained grainy compost and, while it should not dry out, it is more likely to meet its demise by the overzealous attention of the eager guardian armed with a watering can. Give it good indirect light and occasional water, rather like the attention and site given to poinsettias.

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