Category Archives: Uncategorized

Strange Hart’s Tongue Fern

I found this strange form of Asplenium scolopendrium at the back of the churchyard of All Saints Church in Botley, Hampshire. It was growing in a low wall just beside a dustbin. The frond is very thick and it has this raised ridge that runs down the middle of the underneath of the frond. The sori are much reduced, only being formed in the part of the frond which is not raised.

I sent these pictures to our cultivar expert, Julian Reed and this is what he says:

it’s a cultivar
The ridge under the frond is what called sub lineate, if it was on top of the frond it would be supra lineate and I think if well grown it would be ramose

I will try to grow on the spores and see what happens

Polypodiums

I found this patch of Polypodiums opposite the entrance to the Whiteley Golf Club, Whitely, Hampshire SU53720834. I am sure it must be a hybrid because of its vigour. There are several other patches in the same vicinity. I think the spores are not yet ripe.
I have been informed by the Vice County Recorder that it is Polypodium x mantoniae

Asplenium ceterach in Hampshire

With the help of the vice county recorders in North and South Hampshire, I have been trying to track down all the locations for Asplenium ceterach in Hampshire. So far I have found (mostly re-found) 50 locations.
I would say that A. ceterach is relatively rare in Hampshire and from this adventure, it seems to be hanging in, in most of the the known locations.

The best location, in quantity and quality, is in Lower Farringdon
There are 2 hot-spots for A. ceterach, St Mary Bourne and Whitchurch, which both have 4 distinct locations
Churches and railway bridges are good locations for wall ferns in general and occasionally, A. ceterach. However both are vulnerable, railway bridges from maintenance (re-pointing) and churches from over enthusiastic volunteer gardeners who see ferns as destructive to the fabric of the churchyard
I have not seen A. ceterach in any natural locations in Hampshire. It seems to require walls that are old, maybe well over 100 years.
The fern seems to tolerated and even appreciated by the owners of the properties where the fern exists

See the locations on Google Maps

My thanks to Tony Mundell and Martin Rand

Polystichum x bicknellii bulbils

Polystichum x bicknellii growing in my garden has developed bulbils. These bulbils look rather like the damage that sometimes occurs on ferns when they suffer from drought or insect attack but they are developing new fronds. I have had the plant for a few years and I have not noticed this before, nor have I seen it in the wild.
Strangely, it is growing near a Polystichum x dycei which regularly creates bulbils

Adiantum capillus-veneris found in Buriton, Hampshire

This is the first time I have found this fern in the wild in the UK although I have been shown it several times, the latest being a small colony near the top of a railway bridge in the New Forest.
I found this plant on a railway bridge at Buriton. The plant was down near the ground. It is not a large plant and I will continue to monitor its progress.

Chelsea Flower Show 24-28th May


The BPS is having a stand at Chelsea this year as part of our 125th Anniversary celebrations. If you would like to volunteer to help on the stand during the show and/or if you live in or near London and can offer a bed to potential helpers then please get in touch with me on 01302 710318, or fill out this form. Please note that BPS cannot pay your expenses.

We are also looking for suitable plants to be exhibited. The stand is divided into three sections, damp, dry and conservatory and three people have taken on the job of co-ordinating these sections. Below are the lists of plants required but if you have other plants that you think would be useful don’t hesitate to offer them. We aim to have the plants collected together in March to give time to grow them on under cover and make sure there are no pests or disease. If you can contribute any plants please contact the co-ordinator to arrange collection or use the form below. You will need to make clear on the label what the plant is, who it belongs to and also, most important, indicate if you are willing for it to be sold at the end of the show or if you would like it back.

I also need help needed to paint the conservatory structure which is being built for the stand. Could anyone able give a few hours in the week starting 11th April please contact me. I will provide lunch.

You can see a model of our exhibit here.

Dry Section – co-ordinator JUDE LAWTON

Astrolepis sinuata
Blechnum penna-marina
Arachniodes simplicior
Asplenium scolopendrium (and cvs)
Cheilanthes tomentosa
Cheilanthes (any spp found to be hardy)
Asplenium trichomanes
Cyrtomium (any spp and cvs)
Dryopteris affinis (and cvs)
Dryopteris cycadina
Dryopteris dilatata (and cvs)
Dryopteris erythrosora
Dryopteris expansa
Dryopteris filix-mas (cvs only)
Dryopteris lepidota
Dryopteris seiboldii
Dryopteris (any good-looking spp and cvs)
Dryopteris wallichiana
Pellaea rotundifolia
Polypodium vulgare
Polystichum acrosticoides
Polystichum munitum
Polystichum setiferum( and cvs)
Pteris cretica (and any hardy cvs)

Conservatory Section – co-ordinator TIM PYNER

Adiantum raddianum (and cultivars)
Adiantum reniforme
Adiantum caudatum
Adiantum pulverulentum
Adiantum polyphyllum
Aglaomorpha  coronans
Asplenium bulbiferum
Asplenium nidus (and cultivars)
Asplenium australasicum
Blechnum brasiliense
Cyathea tomentosissima
Davallia fejeensis
Davallia solida
Davallia tasmanii
Drynaria
Elaphoglossum (any)
Goniophlebium subauriculatum (and cultivars)
Microsorum punctatum
Microsorum scolopendria
Niphidium crassifolium
Phlebodium aureum/pseudoaureum (and cultivars)
Platycerium (any)
Polypodium formosanum
Psilotum nudum
Pteris argyraea
Pteris ensiformis
Pteris nipponica

Damp Section – co-ordinator JULIAN REED

(Strongly biased to Athyrium ff cultivars plus)
Athyrium ff clarissima
Blechnum spicant
Dryopteris cristata
Dryopteris carthusiana
Gymnocarpium dryopteris
Gymnocarpium dryopteris plumosum
Phegopteris connectilis
Oreopteris limbosperma
Osmunda regalis (and cultivars)
Osmunda (species)
Pseudothelypteris beddomei
Todea barbara


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Fern Fan visiting RBGE

A few months ago, Dr. Chad Husby visited RBGE (the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh).  Chad is a botanical horticulturalist at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Florida, with a particular interest in ferns and especially Equisetum.   He was particularly interested to see the Equisetum collection at RBGE, and was able to identify an unusual horsetail that Gunnar Ovstebo had collected in California, that turned out to be Equisetum x ferrissii Clute, the hybrid between E. hyemale x E. laevigatum.

More recently, I have been reading Chad’s paper ‘Biology and Functional Ecology of Equisetum with Emphasis on the Giant Horsetails’, Botanical Review (2013) 79:147-177.  It includes a discussion of the ancient history of the Equisetum and their now extinct relatives (Sphenopsida) which were the principle vegetation of terrestrial habitats during the Upper Devonian and Carboniferous periods, when the continents were very warm and wet.  These plants became the primary components of the coal layers.  A remarkable feature of modern horsetails is the extent to which they have retained characteristics of their ancient ancestors.

Something that surprised me was that, even though these ancient horsetails grew to enormous size – up to 20 m tall and 60 cm in diameter – they were not made primarily of lignin.  I had always understood that the invention of lignin was one of the major factors that allowed plants to live on land by providing support and allowing for water transport. Incorporation of high concentrations of silicon within cells walls may have contributed to the mechanical strength of the stems, consistent with the high requirement of silicon among Equisetum.  Quite possibly, the horsetails were eventually outcompeted by other plants that had acquired lignin.

Chad’s work has focussed on the giant horsetails in Mexico and South America (see photo of Chad with the E. giganteum Lluta Valley from the Atacama Desert in Chile), of which there are two species E. giganteum and E. myriochaetum (and their hybrid E. x schaffneri).  E. giganteum reaches 5 m tall and has the broadest range, north to south and east to west, of any Equisetum in Latin America. These giant horsetails are mainly found at higher altitudes and in recently disturbed sites, apparently because they cannot compete well against a dense vegetation of angiosperms. Part of their secret to success is the massive rhizome system underground that can survive surface disturbance and can regenerate.

Well, there is a lot more fascinating information in the paper.  I am hoping that Chad will visit again and have a chance to meet more BPS members!