Polystichum cystostegia Alpine shield fern

Epithet means "pouched roof," referring to the inflated indu-sium.

description: The stout rhizome is erect, bearing soft green fronds with stipes and rachises cloaked in distinct orange-brown scales. The lanceolate-ovate blade is bipinnate-pin-natifid with 12 to 18 pairs of imbricate pinnae that are tilted on a plane parallel to the ground. The sori, looking like a series of minute donuts, are medial and covered with an inflated peltate indusium.

range and habitat: Truly an alpine, Polystichum cystostegia grows in fellfields, wet but well-drained screes, and rocky crags at high elevations in New Zealand, primarily on the South Island. Flowering alpine vistas are a personal favorite and the view of this fern surrounded by gentians, lycopods, and celmisias in the New Zealand mountains will forever be a cherished memory. The species hybridizes with P. vestitum.

culture and comments: Here is a species for a bit of rock gardeners' lust. It is charming and challenging and should be tucked among scattered rocks in good light and good-draining but damp soil. or give it individual attention in an alpine house. it is strictly for colder areas and even in its native New Zealand does not grow in warm zones.

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