All posts by Andrew Leonard

Parablechnum novae-zelandiae v P. wattsii

There is some confusion about Parablechnum novae-zelandiae and Parablechnum wattsii but in fact they are easy to distinguish

Parablechnum novae-zelandiae lowest pinna are very small and almost circular whereas Parablechnum wattsii lowest pinna are only slightly smaller than the next set of pinna
There are other differences but they require the observer to be able to compare the fronds
Parablechnum wattsii has a tougher more leathery fronds which are deep green and fairly flat, one-dimensional
Parablechnum novae-zelandiae has less tough fronds which are a lighter green and a bit undulating
Both these plants are dimorphic and here I am describing the infertile fronds
Both these plants used to be called Blechnums

Hardy Doodia species in the UK

One of the things that came out of the Fern Hardiness Project was that there is some scope for more than one name for a particular species
For example, there appears to be some confusion about Doodia species that are hardy in the UK
I have quite a few Doodias on my allotment that look somewhat similar
These are hardy in the sense that they although they can look a bit miserable in the winter, they survive each year and look quite handsome from Spring through to Autumn

In correspondence with Barbara Parris, she identified plants 1-6 as Doodia australis and plant 7 as Doodia aspera
Plants 1-6 were collected from either the Azores or Madeira and may have self-spored as well on the allotment
Plant 7 was labelled “DOODIA Rough Ruby” (sic) when I bought it from a plant sales outlet in the UK
Barbara Parris says:

Doodia australis, formerly known as D. media of horticulture, (the real D. media is a tropical Northeast Australian and New Guinea species that does not appear to be in cultivation). Some forms can have two rows of sori on each side of the costa when well-grown, from Southeast Australia and New Zealand. Several basal pairs of pinnae are stalked.

I now suspect that neither Doodia media nor Doodia caudata are hardy in the UK

See Flora of Australia page 389 (pdf page 416)
See Flora of Australia page 391 (pdf page 418)

I would be interested in anybody elses comments


I grow various Cheilanthes from spores donated to the BPS
When (and if) they grow, they seem to develop into Cheilanthes tomentosa, whatever it said on the packet (or even my labels)
I had a look at some of these, growing in my gravel bed and noticed they were covered in dew

You can see that this Cheilanthes has many small hairs which the dew forms on
This process, I suppose, allows the plant to grow in places where there is little rain but occasional fog
I noticed this in the Southern arid regions of Tenerife, where they get sea mists most mornings, but little rain
Of course, dew does not just form on Cheilanthes, I noticed it also on the roof of my car

Beautiful ferns

Some of my ferns seem to be enjoying the strange weather we have been having in Portsmouth
A very cold but sunny April was followed by a very rainy summer
These ferns have all survived one winter with me and are growing in a gravel bed


Blechnum longicauda

In July 2017, I went on the BPS trip to northern Ireland in the company of Tim Pyner, Alison Evans and Martin Rickard
Martin kindly took us to Mount Stewart, where he had helped in chosing some very beautiful and exotic ferns and introduced us to some of the staff
We were allowed to take some “bulbils” of Blechnum longicauda
I planted mine in my polythene tunnel and it has produced one “baby” from a bulbil with perhaps another two on the way
This year, for the first time, it produced a fertile spike, which I have attempted to photograph

Adiantum capillus-veneris in Buriton August 2021

Adiantum capillus-veneris seems to be thriving on the Railway Bridge at Buriton
I counted at least 14 independant plants and it seems to be spreading to new areas of the wall
It maybe the repairs to the bridge have slowed down the rate that the water percolates down the wall or it maybe the high rainfall we have been having

See my previous posts on this subject

Wisley July 2021

The new Events Hall in the Hilltop Centre at RHS Wisley played host to a show staged by the BPS and the Carnivorous Plant Society on 24th and 25th July. The venue was excellent and there was considerable interest shown by the public. Stands of hardy ferns were created by Julian Reed and Peter Clare, and by Jude Lawton. Pat Acock displayed a wide range of equisetums and Peter Blake displayed tender ferns for indoor culture. Stuart Worth had a display of unusual tender epiphytes and commercial stands were manned by Crawford Hardy Ferns, Maidenhead Aquatics and Fibrex. It is likely that this show will take place again next year on 23rd and 24th July 2022