Shorter Notes

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Asplenium aethiopicum (African, from Ethiopia) is occasionally available commercially and is suitable for outdoor cultivation in Zones 9 to 11 or indoors elsewhere. Lanceolate fronds mature at 12 to 15 in. (30 to 38 cm) and have 12 to 18 pairs of variable dark green bipinnate pinnae. This species is apogamous.

Asplenium australasicum (from Australia) is a tender "bird's nest" species with simple fronds that can, in time, reach 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall. They are a brilliant, satiny green and are identified specifically by the pointed midrib keel on the underside of the frond. This species is hardy outdoors in Southern California and it is reported that most plants sold as A. nidus are actually this species. It is primarily an epiphyte and will catch debris in its cuplike central "nest." Give it loose soil, good light, and a minimum amount of watering.

Asplenium bradleyi (after Bradley), Bradley's spleenwort, is the rare fertile hybrid between A. montanum and A. platyneu-ron and is intermediate between the parents. The narrowly oblong to lanceolate evergreen fronds are up to 10 in. (25 cm) tall with pinnate-pinnatifid to bipinnate foliage. The species is native to the eastern United States where it is found on ledges, in sandy rock crevices and acidic sites especially in the Appalachians and Ozarks. It is a candidate for garden consideration in Zones 6 to 8, with special attention to its acidic requirements. It is not easy.

Asplenium crucibuli (of the melting pot, in reference to the fact that the two parent species do not occur together in nature), synonym Asplenosorus xcrucibuli, is the hybrid between Asplenium platyneuron and Camptosorus sibiricus, which mated quite by accident in an Ohio greenhouse. The narrow pinnae are once-pinnate at the base and lobed upwardly as the frond extends a long tonguelike protruding tip. Mickel (1994) reports that it is fertile. Slugs can be a problem so it is best in part shade and isolated containers in Zones 5 to 8.

Asplenium cuneifolium (wedge-shaped) is a small European species with 8-in. (20-cm) bipinnate to (on occasion) tripinnate glossy triangular fronds. Hardy down to Zone 4, it is serpentine specific and consequently difficult to cultivate.

Asplenium dareoides (after Darea, the base name for Asplenium, therefore the asplenium's Asplenium), common name "celery of the mountain," is a lacy creeping mite of a species from southern South America and the Falklands. The 3- to 4-in. (7.5- to 10-cm) fronds are triangular, with tripin-nate evergreen foliage. This little beauty likes porous soil and should make a splendid foreground plant in Zones 5 to 8.

Asplenium fissum (cleft, split) is a feathery evergreen challenge from limestone crevices primarily in alpine Europe. Lance-shaped fronds are tripinnate with minute wands of vivid green triangular pinnae. Here is a fern for gardeners in Zones 6 to 8 who can successfully maintain lime-loving species.

Carrie Booze Nude
Asplenium flaccidum in the woods of New Zealand.
Images Tripinnate Fern Frond
Asplenium hallbergii in its native Mexico.

Asplenium flaccidum (limp, flaccid), hanging spleenwort, drapes from trees, tree trunks, and cliffs in damp shade in New Zealand and Australia. It needs space to display its 3-ft. (90-cm) long, hanging, once-pinnate to bipinnate fronds with their elongate, narrow, saw-toothed pinnae. In Zones 9 and 10 it can be fastened to a broad crotch in a tree where the pendant fronds will make a good conversation piece. It is described as gracefully weeping (perhaps like a Victorian maiden). Elsewhere the same drooping habit displays handsomely in basket culture. Good humusy soil makes for a contented plant.

Asplenium goudeyi (after fern specialist Christopher Goudey of Australia) is a miniature and manageable bird's nest fern. The simple fronds are arranged in an upright 6- to 8-in. (15- to 20-cm) rosette of light green paddles. Fertile fronds are produced at a young age. The species is native to the mar

Asplenium goudeyi being tested in the rock garden at the Miller Botanical Garden.

itime cliffs of Australia's Lord Howe Island and was introduced to the United States in 2000 by the Halleys of the San Diego Fern Society. Easily cultivated in Zones 9 and 10, it has survived brief subfreezing temperatures in my garden, but not a prolonged freeze.

Asplenium hallbergii (after botanist Boone Hallberg) comes from the oak-pine woods in the montane areas of Mexico and Guatemala. Linear 6- to 10-in. (15- to 25-cm) fronds are once-pinnate on dark stems. The species is very similar to A. monanthes but is smaller and has more than one sorus per pinna. Give it grit and light shade in Zones 8 and 9. Asplenium monanthes is easier to cultivate.

Asplenium hemionitis (non-flowering) is a dagger-shaped Mediterranean evergreen that enjoys humidity and Zone 9 temperatures. It will reach 10 in. (25 cm) and likes acid soil and good drainage.

Asplenium jahandiezii (after botanist Émile Jahandiez, 1876-1938) is a very rare, solid green evergreen from the limestone walls of a single gorge in Verdon, France. Once-pinnate 3-in. (7.5-cm) fronds are narrowly lanceolate and succulent. This species is for adventurous aficionados in Zones 6 to 8.1 once had it in my garden, but unfortunately it was just passing through. Limestone and good drainage are mandatory.

Asplenium kobayashii (after Kobayashi), synonym As-plenosorus xkobayashii, is the fertile hybrid between the Asians Asplenium incisum and Camptosorus sibiricus and is comparable in structure to the North American A. ebenoides complete with its slug appeal. The linear, evergreen fronds are 6 to 12 in. (15 to 30 cm) tall, and once-pinnate to pinnately lobed. The plant is hardy in Zones 5 to 8.

Asplenium lepidum (elegant) grows in humid limestone-dominant gorges in Central Europe. It superficially resembles

A. ruta-muraria and is equally difficult to establish in gardens. The diminutive fronds are 3 to 4 in. (7.5 to 10 cm) tall, narrowly lanceolate, and bipinnate with a soft sheen. Fern specialists in Zones 6 to 8 might be able to introduce this species to limestone cobbles.

Asplenium oblongifolium (oblonged-leaved), shining spleenwort, synonym A. lucidum, is endemic to New Zealand with tall once-pinnate fronds occasionally reaching 3 ft. (90 cm), but usually much shorter. The pinnae are sharp-pointed and the foliage is glossy, distinguishing it from fellow native A. obtusatum, which has blunt pinnae and dull but fleshy foliage. Shining spleenwort is best in good humusy soil in Zone 9 or with protection possibly in Zone 8.

Asplenium oligophlebium (with few veins) is a tip-rooting, evergreen, Japanese endemic with slender, once-pinnate fronds to 10 in. (25 cm), although more commonly 4 to 5 in.

Asplenium Care

Asplenium oblongifolium in its typical shiny dress along the western coast of New Zealand's South Island.

Asplenium pinnatifidum on a cliff in Pennsylvania. Photo by Graham Ackers.

(10 to 13 cm). The pinnae are auricled and deeply incised, with the whole being delicate in appearance. I grow my plant in an indoor container as a greenhouse "ground cover" under taller ferns. It should make a fine walking specimen in humid sites in Zone 9 or a trouble-free terrarium ornamental elsewhere.

Asplenium onopteris (ass fern, named in the late 1500s by the German doctor-botanist Tabernaemontanus, who did not explain the allusion), acute-leaved spleenwort, is a triangular evergreen with lacy and pointed, 8- to 12-in. (20- to 30-cm) tripinnate fronds. It is somewhat similar to A. adiantum-ni-grum without the strong soil-specific demands of the latter. Coastal in distribution in the British Isles and Europe, it can be cultivated in light shade in Zone 9 and with protection in Zone 8.

Asplenium pekinense (from Peking, an old name for Beijing, China), Beijing spleenwort, is a small evergreen that grows on mossy rocks and stone walls in Japan, Siberia, China, Korea, the Himalayas, and Taiwan. The lanceolate bipinnate to tripinnate blades are only a few inches wide and may occasionally reach up to 1 ft. (30 cm) tall. The species is closely related to A. sarelii of similar habitats and barely separated in the Japanese flora on the basis of having scales with hairs as opposed to the hairless scales of A. sarelii. I assume a hand lens would be helpful here. This species is hardy, albeit unfortunately not slug resistant, in Zones 6 to 8 in ordinary compost. Add this to its diminutive size, and container culture is the safest option.

Asplenium petrarchae (after Petrarque, a sixteenth-century Italian poet) is a stubby 2- to 3-in. (5- to 7.5-cm), once-pinnate, lanceolate evergreen from European and North African Mediterranean countries. The foliage is accustomed to some sunshine, but the roots appreciate cool crevices especially in limestone. Pinnae are somewhat hairy and slightly incised. This species is particular about the limestone requirement but otherwise suitable for humid sites in Zone 9.

Asplenium pinnatifidum (pinnately divided), lobed spleenwort, synonym Asplenosorus xpinnatifidus, is the fertile hybrid between Asplenium montanum and Camptosorus rhi-zophyllus of eastern North America. The 4- to 8-in. (10- to 20-cm) evergreen fronds are linear and, as becomes the name, pinnatifid. The plant prefers shady, acid habitats and can be cultivated in slug-free environments in Zones 5 to 8.

Asplenium sarelii (after Colonel Sarel who explored the Yangtze-Kiang [now the Chang Jiang] River area in the 1860s), synonym A. anogrammoides, is a small, 10-in. (25-cm) evergreen with broadly lanceolate bipinnate to tripinnate fronds. This species has scales without hairs, while A. pekinense has scales with hairs. The two species also hybridize with each other. Asplenium sarelii favors walls and open rocky slopes in Japan, Mongolia, the Himalayas, China, Korea, and Indochina. In cultivation it is suitable for Zones 6 to 8, well away from the local slug population.

Asplenium seelosii (after Gustav von Seelos, 1832-1911, an Austrian engineer and botanist) is an evergreen from limestone fissures in the European Alps. Lax 1- to 4-in. (2.5- to 10-cm) pixie fronds are predominantly stipes with trilobed tips.

The species is divided into subsp. seelosii and subsp. glabrum with the latter having no scales and tips that are essentially enlarged stipes. The species range extends to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. With its unique appearance, this Asplenium would make a delightful addition for close-up viewing in containers customized to simulate limestone crevices. I expect the slugs admire it as well.

Asplenium tripteropus (three wings) is a 4- to 10-in. (10- to 25-cm) evergreen with a pair of lateral wings on the stipes as well as a third wing on the stipe's underside. Fronds resembling A. trichomanes are linear and once-pinnate, but are distinct by being tip rooting. This Asplenium comes without slug warnings and should be tested in Zones 6 to 9. In nature it nestles in rocky clefts in the mountains of Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan.

Asplenium viviparum (producing plantlets on foliage) is a small version of A. bulbiferum with finely divided tripinnate to quadripinnate fronds with randomly scattered sprouting buds on the foliage. It is from Mauritius and Madagascar and consequently an indoor plant for residents of temperate climates. Gardeners in Zones 9 and 10 can enjoy this as a freely reproducing basket specimen. Asplenium daucifolium of the trade is currently considered a subspecies of A. viviparum.

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