Polystichum stenophyllum

Narrow-leafed holly fern

Epithet means "narrow leaf."

description: The rhizome is erect. The grooved green stipes are one-fourth of the frond length and trimmed with long-tailed tan scales. The once-pinnate linear blades are firm and very narrow, ranging from V2 to 1 in. (13 to 25 mm) wide. Frond tips can have a minute, proliferous bud, smaller than a pinhead, near the apex. (They are not obvious.) Fifteen to twenty pairs of serrate, auricled pinnae are rosy pink in new growth. Lower pinnae on my plants do not point downwards. sori with peltate indusia trace the midsections and auricles of the pinnae.

Polystichum stenophyllum, a dwarf for the shady rock garden.
Polystichum tagawanum in the spring garden.

Polystichum tripteron with its "wings" on the lower portion of the frond.

range and habitat: This is a fern of higher mountain regions in the Himalayas, China, and Taiwan. It does not grow in Japan.

culture and comments: Grow this diminutive charmer in colonies in humus-enriched rocky sites in the shade. (Moisture and shade promote bulbil production.) It invites closer inspection and admiration in container plantings as well.

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