Polystichum californicum California holly fern

Epithet means "from California."

description: The rhizome is erect. The stipe with brown scales is one-fourth of the frond length. The pinnate-pin-natifid to bipinnate blade is lanceolate with 15 to 30 pairs of toothy pinnae. Sori vary from medial to submarginal. This genus has a promiscuous background; Flora of North America (1993) classifies it as a hybrid, with P. dudleyi and P. imbri-cans as ancestors in its northern range and P. dudleyi and P. munitum in its southerly home. (And having nothing better to do they backcross as well.) New names are no doubt forthcoming.

range and habitat: Polystichum californicum is coastal and habitat-specific to the west side of the Cascade Mountains and sierras from northern California to British Columbia. Influenced by its P. imbricans parent, it is found in the northern area of its range on rocky sites and often on cliffs. (There is a wonderful stand on Mount Rainier for those who are not height-challenged.) The southern stations are in wooded areas. It is rare throughout its range.

Polystichum andersonii is a stately and elegant addition to the Pacific Northwest woodland design, here fashionably highlighted in front of a stump in the Horder garden.

An 18-year-old Polystichum andersonii with a 6-in. (15-cm) "trunk" which should be buried leaving the crown at soil level.

Glistening fronds of Polystichum braunii are dressed to the ground in foliage.

The rarely cultivated Polystichum californicum at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden.

The exceedingly rare hybrid Polystichum cystostegia X P. vestitum in the company of fellow New Zealand alpines in the Jessen garden.

culture and comments: These attractive midsized to small evergreens are difficult to obtain because they are usually sterile. All are a bit touchy and need partial shade with good drainage.

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