Dryopteris aitoniana (for William Aiton, 1759-1793, head gardener at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) is a finely divided, 2-ft. (60-cm) evergreen from the Atlantic Islands. The triangular, somewhat glandular blades are borne on long stipes. This plant is cultivated in Zone 8 in Britain.
Dryopteris ardechensis (from the Ardeche region of France) grows to 2V2 ft. (75 cm) on rocky cliffs in cold regions of Mediterranean Europe. It is visually similar to both D. filix-mas and D. affinis and likely a hybrid between the latter and D. tyrrhena. A subevergreen, it has been successfully cultivated in German gardens in Zone 7 and needs gritty soil with good drainage.
Dryopteris atrata (blackish, clothed in black) is a native of southern India and is not cold hardy. unfortunately, the name has been misapplied to the visually similar temperate species D. cycadina and widely distributed as such in error. The trop ical D. hirtipes from southern and Southeast Asia is very closely related (Fraser-Jenkins, pers. comm.).
Dryopteris cochleata (twisted like a snail shell) is strongly dimorphic with upright, contracted fertile fronds and leafy, arching sterile ones. Both types of fronds reach 2V2 to 3V2 ft. (75 to 105 cm), have long stipes, and are subevergreen. An attractive, but rarely available, fern from China and eastern Asia, it should be tried in woodlands in Zones 7 and 8.
Dryopteris dracomontana (from the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa) is from high rainfall, alpine areas where it is found nestled in the lee of rocks in partial sun. It is dimorphic with erect fertile fronds to 11/2 ft. (45 cm) and semi-prostrate bipinnate to tripinnate, smaller sterile fronds. Like many alpine species, it is challenging, handsome, and tempting. Give it good drainage and a rock garden setting in Zones 7 and 8.
Dryopteris fuscipes (dark footed) is an apogamous evergreen with ovate, pinnate-pinnatifid to bipinnate fronds. The spring foliage unfurls in shades of pinkish red before turning a glowing green. Borderline hardy in Zone 7, it is a radiant addition to lightly shaded gardens in Zones 8 and 9. It comes to us from Japan, China, Korea, and eastern Asia.
Dryopteris guanchica (diminutive of Guanches, a name given to the early peoples of the Canary Islands) is a small evergreen from humid, rocky, wooded ravines in the Iberian Peninsula and Canary Islands. The shiny fronds are triangular and tripinnate or even more finely segmented. This fern needs the humidity of its native habitats but should be tested in Zones 8 and 9.
Dryopteris gymnosora (naked sori) is included only because it is periodically available commercially. The new fronds are reddish but quickly become edged in brown. This fern has persisted in my greenhouse for many years and I admire it for a few weeks every spring. Otherwise, it has potential for moist gardens in Zones 9 and 10 where it will need supplemental humidity as well. It is apogamous and the sori are not covered byindusia.
Dryopteris hawaiiensis (of Hawaii) grows in wet forests on all the major Hawaiian islands except Lanai. Martin Rickard (2000), who has had this species thriving in his British garden for many years, describes it as triangular, tripinnate, and deciduous with fronds to 2 ft. (60 cm). It is recommended for use in shady areas of Zone 9 and possibly Zone 8.
Dryopteris labordei (after Father J. Laborde who collected in Guizhou, China, in the 1890s) is an evergreen from the botanically rich triumvirate of Japan, China, and Korea. It is a 2-ft. (60-cm) narrowly triangular fronded candidate for Zones 7 and 8.
Dryopteris marginata (with a distinct margin) is an extremely tall, to 5 ft. (1.5 m), species from the Himalayas, China, and eastern Asia and is not to be confused with the North American D. marginalis. The tall stipes are at least as long as the ovate, tripinnate, evergreen blades. This species is not widely available but should be content in moist soil and shade in Zones 7 and 8.
Dryopteris xmickelii (after John Mickel, fern curator emeritus at the New York Botanical Garden) is an energetic,
Warm tones of Dryopteris yigongensis foliage.
Stunning spring fronds of Dryopteris wallichiana framed by rockwork at the Bellevue Botanical Garden.
pinnate-pinnatifid to bipinnate, semievergreen, sterile cross between D. clintoniana and D. goldiana. The parents get together on the borders of hardwood swamps in the eastern United States. The rhizome creeps and branches producing 4-to 5-ft. (1.2- to 1.5-m) fronds that are "taller and more robust than D. clintoniana . . . and more slender, shinier and erect than D. goldiana" (Mickel 1994). This fern can be propagated by division, but it is hoped that tissue culture will further extend its range in the gardening community.
Dryopteris montícola (mountain loving) is cultivated as a separate species in Europe but considered by some to be a subspecies of D. goldiana. With a native range in the well-chilled climates of Siberia, Japan, and China, it is a remarkable beauty with all the elegance of its American relative. The deciduous, pastel green, broad fronds mature at 2 to 3 ft. (60 to 90 cm) and are pinnate-pinnatifid. It is an excellent plant for Zones 3 to 8.
Dryopteris monticola, a cold-climate Asian species very similar to the North American D. goldiana, in the Förster garden.
Dryopteris nigropaleacea (covered with dark scales), a common fern of Himalayan forests and roadsides, has evergreen, blue-green narrowly triangular, bipinnate fronds up to 3 ft. (90 cm) tall. It is named for the dark scales at the base of the long stipes and should be a serviceable background plant for Zones 7 and 8.
Dryopteris panda (after Pande) is a thickly herbaceous, pinnate-pinnatifid, 2-ft. (60-cm) species from China and the Himalayas. The narrow, lanceolate blades have 12 to 15 pairs of openly spaced, glabrous pinnae with sori on the midribs. The airy structure makes this a decorative addition to partially shaded open sites in Zones (6) 7 and 8.
Dryopteris pulcherrima (beautiful) is a distant cousin of D. wallichiana, sharing the densely dressed, scaly stipe and rachis characteristics that are so engaging. The stipe is short and the 2-ft. (60-cm) evergreen blade is pinnate-pinnatifid with up to 35 pairs of dark green, leathery pinnae. As this elegant fern comes from elevations of up to 12,000 ft. (3600 m) in the Himalayas, woodland gardeners in Zones 7, 8, and possibly 6 should succeed with it.
Dryopteris sichotensis (from the Sichote-Alin mountains of eastern Russia), synonym D. coreano-montana, is a semievergreen species that is described as looking similar to D. ore-ades although, at 4 ft. (1.2 m), larger. It can be grown in Zones 6 to 8.
Dryopteris sparsa (sparsely scaly) is extremely widespread in its Pacific distribution and is the only Dryopteris that is native to Australia. It is a medium-sized apogamous evergreen reported to be similar in outline to D. erythrosora. This fern is appropriate for use in Zone 9 or perhaps Zone 8.
Dryopteris tyrrhena (from the islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea) is a mid-montane Mediterranean species that grows to 11/2 ft. (45 cm). The lanceolate fronds are pinnate-pinnatifid. It can be grown in Zones 6 to 8.
Dryopteris xuliginosa (of swamps or marshes) mates D. cristata and D. carthusiana in their natural British, European, and North American habitats. The deciduous fronds are 2 ft. (60 cm) tall with pinnate-pinnatifid to bipinnate foliage. Look for it in acidic swamps and the mineral-rich mud ofbogs. It is a sterile hybrid but like D. carthusiana it creeps about and can be propagated by division.
Dryopteris villarii (after Dominique Villars, 1745-1814, of France) is a deciduous, upright, gray-green species that once was included with D. submontana (now D. mindshelkensis). It is difficult to distinguish between the two species, but small basal pairs of pinnae on D. villarii are one of the defining, albeit minute, differences. This fern is native to rocky limestone substrates in the mountains of Europe and can be established in matching garden situations in Zones 6 to 8.
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