Sphenomeris

Sphenomeris (sphen, wedge, meros, parts, in reference to the form of the ultimate segments) is a genus of 18 tropical species that have been variously classified indicating their close botanical relationship to Odontosoria and Lindsaea.

Sphenomeris retusa, a species of wide range in the South Pacific, from the Philippines to New Guinea, to the Bismark and Louisiade Archipelagoes, to the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia, is one of the world's more graceful ferns: a tuft of weeping fronds finely divided into cuneiform pinnules that recall those of certain especially airy forms of the maidenhair Adiantum raddianum. In the wild the species colonizes steep or cliffy ground that is moist and of clayey composition with little or no humus, in sun or part shade. The fronds hang there as lacy shields in an open grouping that covers about 3 ft. (90 cm) top to bottom. Where the fern grows in full sun, its stems and newly unrolling foliage take on an ocher-red color; the fronds turn light green with maturity. As a garden companion this species adds leavening in plantings with weightier tropical leafage. (Description by George Schenk.)

Sphenomeris retusa flourishing in a post garden (a tree fern trunk hollowed at the top and then filled with humusy soil), together with Medinilla pendula in fruit, and the vine Syngonium hojfmanii, pale green, almost white, of leaf. Photo by George Schenk.

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