Shorter Notes

Gymnocarpium appalachianum (from Appalachia), the Appalachian oak fern, has those pinnules on the second-from-the-base pairs of pinnae stalked rather than sessile as in G. dis-junctum and G. dryopteris. A deciduous Appalachian endemic with populations in a narrow range from North Carolina and West Virginia to Ohio, this species grows in moist sandstone in the woods at higher elevations along its range. It should adapt to gardens wherever it can be kept cool in the summer from Zones 2 to 8.

Gymnocarpium fedtschenkoanum (after Boris Fedtschen-ko, 1872-1947, of Russia) from central Asia, China, Tibet, and Nepal, is an attractive deciduous pale green species with finely cut tripinnate triangular blades and with lower pinnules on the second pinnae pair from the base smaller than those adjacent. Matching upper pinnules on the same pinnae are missing. This species is hardy from Zones 5 to 8 and likely even colder zones. Use it with collector's pride as a modest and handsome, nonaggressive carpet in woodland shade and moist compost or as a ground cover in large container designs. It is somewhat slow to establish.

Gymnocarpium jessoense (after the Japanese island, Yezo, Hokkaido) is a species with the typical triangular outline and with glandular hairs strictly along the upper pinnae midribs, distinguishing it from G. robertianum, which has glands distributed over most of the frond. This is a high-elevation species with a preference for lime substrates and should do well in the cobbles of gardens from Zone 4 to 8.

Gymnocarpium robertianum in the limestone of a European rock garden.

The rarely available Gymnocarpium fedtschenkoanum offers a refreshing presence in the company of late summer-flowering Cyclamen in the Kohout garden.

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