Polystichum retrosopaleaceum

Synonym Polystichum aculeatum var. retroso-paleaceum Epithet means "twisted back scales." Evergreen, 2 to 3 ft. (60 to 90 cm). Zones 5 to 8.

description: The rhizome is erect. The grooved stipes are dark chocolate in color, one-fourth of the frond length, and trimmed on opposite outer sides with down- and forward-thrusting pale tan scales. The lanceolate blade with earthward-pointing basal pinnae is bipinnate with 20 or more pairs of pinnae. Sori are medial with peltate indusia.

range and habitat: Large populations grow in rich soil throughout forests in Korea and especially Japan.

culture and comments: An easily cultivated hardy fern, this species awakens in early spring chasing the crocuses and joining the daffodils and primroses. Protect it from late frosts and plant it where its beguiling early crosiers can be admired. It can be differentiated from the extremely similar Polystichum ovato-paleaceum by the scales that aim downwards rather than tending upwards as in the latter. in addition, new growth and spore maturation are earlier on P. retroso-paleaceum.

Polystichum richardii Richard's holly fern, black shield fern

Epithet is after Richard.

Evergreen, 1 to 2 ft. (30 to 60 cm). Zones 8 (with protection) and 9.

description: The rhizome is erect. The tall, slender stipes, covered with narrow, dark blackish scales, are up to one-half of the frond length. Blades are ovate-lanceolate and bipinnate with 15 to 20 pairs of pinnae. Sori are large with dark-centered peltate indusia.

The species hybridizes with Polystichum vestitum. In 2003 (see Perrie et al. 2003, Ackers 2005) taxonomists divided this variable species into four taxa as follows: Polystichum neoze-landicum subsp. neozelandicum, P. neozelandicum subsp. zero-phyllum, P. oculatum, and P. wawranum. Notice that the name P. richardii is nowhere in sight. The older name P. neoze-landicum takes precedence sending P. richardii into botanical obscurity. For field characteristics, differences are based on scale size and shape, distance between pinnae, the size of the dark center in the indusia, and somewhat on geographical distribution. Naturally these all grade into each other. As a broad generalization P. wawranum has closely set pinnae, a very small dark center on the indusia, and is most prevalent on the North Island. Polystichum neozelandicum subsp. neozelandicum has less closely set pinnae, a large dark center, and is most common at the north end of New Zealand's North Island. Polystichum neozelandicum subsp. zerophyllum has more widely spaced pinnae, a medium-sized dark center, and is scattered on both islands. Polystichum oculatum has widely spaced

Polystichum Retroso Paleaceum

Polystichum retroso-paleaceum is one of the earliest ferns to unfurl in the spring.

Polystichum richardii whose name has changed but whose dark fronds remain enchanting by whatever designation.

Polystichum Richardii
Polystichum rigens in the Kennar garden.

pinnae, a small to medium dark center, and is concentrated on the southern half of the North Island and northern half of the South Island.

range and habitat: Endemic to New Zealand, these four are found in varied habitats.

culture and comments: In general the erstwhile Polystichum richardii with its magnificently dark and shiny, black-green foliage is readily recognizable and suggestive of early evening views of somber mountain lakes. In cultivation it grows in assorted soil types without complaint, but unfortunately, is only borderline hardy in Zone 8. For best results it needs serious protection or a life as an indoor plant.

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