Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ferns, Up Close and Personal

Caterpillar fern -Polypodium formosanum
Ferns are such an interesting group of plants. I especially love the ferns with "feet" and the bird's nest ferns. I use a lot of birds and nests in my decorating and so having a plant that looks like a nest with eggs is one I couldn't pass up. (My family would say there isn't ANY plant I can pass up.)
Worm fern foliage.

The first fern pictured is the green worm fern, also called the E.T. fern because its rhizomes  resemble E.T.'s fingers. It is also sometimes called the naked rabbit's foot fern.  How amazing is it close up?

Bear's paw fern-Agloamorpha meyeniana

The bear's paw fern has huge brown furry rhizomes about 1" in diameter. It's leaves are huge as well and have a bluish cast to them.

Bear's  paw fern foliage.

Microsorum musifolium 'Crocodyllus'

Crocodile fern

How cool that foliage can look like animal skin. This fern, known as the crocodile fern really does resemble crocodile skin.

The fronds starting to unfurl.
The fiddle head unfurling.

The bird's nest ferns are so interesting. As the fronds start to unfurl, they look like little eggs down in the cup or "nest" of the plant. Asplenium nidus 'Crispy Wave', also called lasagna fern is the perfect name for this plant. It really does look like those yummy noodles. This is a fairly new introduction and mine is less than a year old. There are many other varieties of bird's nest ferns, as well.
Nephrolepsis exaltata 'Tiger'

This fern is one of my favorites. It is a variegated Boston fern, Nephrolepsis exaltata 'Tiger'. I have the solid green version, as well, but there is nothing like a variegated form of any plant. I will always choose a variegated plant over a plain one, or just get one of each....
Scyphularia pycnocarpa

 Scyphularia pycnocarpa, has the common names possum tail and forked hare's foot fern. It really does look like a hairy animal leg. .
Davallia fijeensis

The most commonly found footed fern is the rabbit's foot fern. Who can resist these furry rhizomes. You could pet these if you were so inclined. Isn't it amazing how they really do look like animal fur but are rhizomes on plants? I certainly think so. I have looked through books and searched the internet and  can't seem to find the story behind these furry rhizomes. Does the "fur" protect them from the sun? Do animals think they are other animals and so pass them over as a meal? Or did God just think it was a fun thing to create? I'd like to know.

Up close rabbit's foot fern rhizomes.

Another close-up.
Many people think growing ferns is almost impossible. I've had  a piece of my great-grandma's fern for over 27 years and it is still looking good. Check out this blog post about re-potting my fern. .
I've had the tiger fern and the footed ferns for a number of years. I grow them in an East window and make sure they are well watered. Ferns, dry soil and low humidity do not go together. I have a lot of plants grouped together in the window (and in every window...) and that helps raise the humidity. Placing pebble trays underneath your plants is very helpful, too.

Ferns are beautiful and really are undemanding, in my opinion, so try one. If you have a child in your life, buy a footed fern and I guarantee they will love it and it will get them interested in plants.

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