Polypodium virginianum

Rock polypody

Polypodium appalachianum x P. sibericum.

Epithet means "from Virginia."

description: The rhizome is long-creeping with an acrid taste again being a definitive litmus test. Pale straw-colored stipes, which are usually one-third of the frond length, have weakly bicolored scales rather than the uniformly tan stipe scales of Polypodium appalachianum. Blades are pinnatifid and long linear without broad basal pinnae. Ten to eighteen pairs of pinnae narrow at their tips and bear indusia-free, round sori between the midrib and margins. New growth emerges in early summer as the old fronds wither.

range and habitat: The rocky compost of inhospitable sites is more of a common denominator than any particular soil preference. Polypodium virginianum spreads in nature with picturesque ease on and among rocks from eastern Canada to the lower eastern states of North Carolina and borderline central states from Wisconsin to Tennessee. Haufler et al. (1995) noted that P. virginianum was likely pushed south by glaciation from its northerly parent P. sibericum. Interim eons allowed it to evolve and adapt.

culture and comments: Logic would imply that a neutral cobble or an equivalent garden site would enable a replication of the beauty of the wild finds. Easy success with logic would probably also remove the challenges, mental and physical, that keep the gardening faithful devoted to pleasing their charges. Polypodium virginianum will do that. The first requirement is

Polypodium virginianum growing in the wild in New York State.
The well-mannered Polypodium glycyrrhiza X P. scouleri spreads slowly in the Peters garden.

good drainage, followed by lean but moist soil, and finished off with a balance between warmth and shade. It does not do well in the year-round warmth of Southern California and comparably agreeable climates. And, in spite of its natural beauty and the gardener's coddling, it is not easily introduced in its native East Coast. Pity.

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