Ferns: Crested male fern or lady fern?

Discussion in 'Plants with Spores (Ferns, Mosses, et al.)' started by wcutler, May 16, 2020.

  1. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I'm closer to an ID for this fern than I expected. It's in the Greig Rhododendron Garden, has surely been planted as an ornamental.
    I have three contenders for names:
    Athyrium filix-femina ‘Vernoniae Cristatum’? Or Athyrium filix-femina 'Corymbiferum'? Or Dryopteris filix-mas 'Crispa Cristata'?
    I don't know what the distinguishing characteristics are. I'm leaning toward the first one, based on an internet photo.
    The page at Dryopteris filix-mas 'Crispa Cristata' says "It is a good idea to put Dryopteris (male ferns) near Athyriums (lady ferns) for reasons that (I hope) are obvious." That doesn't seem obvious to me - unless the reason is for people like me who would like to compare them. Would they cross-fertilize and produce hybrids, or not cross-fertilize at all?
    Crested-fern_StanleyPark-path-along-rhody-garden_Cutler_20200512_151624.jpg Crested-fern_StanleyPark-path-along-rhody-garden_Cutler_20200512_151557.jpg
     
  2. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Here are a couple more photos. Based on the round shape of the sori, I think this has to be Dryopteris filix-mas 'Crispa Cristata', crested male fern.
    Dryopteris-filix-mas_StanleyPark-path-along-rhody-garden_Cutler_20200520_150325.jpg Dryopteris-filix-mas_StanleyPark-path-along-rhody-garden_Cutler_20200520_150400.jpg
     
  3. dt-van

    dt-van Active Member 10 Years

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    Wendy,
    By coincidence I was just looking at this fern a friend gave me and trying to figure out what it was. Naively I thought "with these tasseled ends this must be what's called a Tassel Fern", but quickly found out that I was wrong there. The photos in your post are very similar to mine so of course I have the same dilemma.
    I've attached some photos including one of the sori (which I hadn't looked for before). My plant is almost 4' tall and not very bushy, perhaps because it is growing in a very dark corner behind a lush Crested Royal Fern.

    Mine doesn't seem as advanced as yours and only has about 10-15 relatively narrow fronds. To me the sori seem a bit less round than yours - more kidney bean shaped. They look rather like these Athyrium filix-femina - Wikipedia but they don't look anything like these Athyrium Filix-femina (Lady Fern): Minnesota Wildflowers.

    The descriptions in my old Perennial Gardens catalogue describe all the male ferns as semi evergreen and my fern is completely deciduous so I was leaning towards Athyrium filix-femina 'Corymbiferum' or ‘Vernoniae Cristatum’. From the photos I've seen I can't figure out how to tell them apart; some photos of each look very like yours and mine, others are quite different. Mine is bigger than most of the crested lady ferns I've seen described, but I know that in the wild our native ones can have have fronds that are close to 5' long. All of this to say that I'm still not sure what genus mine is never mind what cultivar. The Victoria craze for ruffled and tasseled ferns seems to have left us with a surfeit of choices. Let me know what you think.

    Like you I can't see what is "obvious" about planting Dryopteris (male ferns) near Athyriums. I do aim for balance in my garden, but never though of including gender parity in the equation. But then I've never been able to see what is 'masculine' about male ferns anyways.
     

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  4. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Teresa (did I guess right?), to me those sori are round. I put some fern resources in Plants Identification Online Resources.
    The Basic Fern Identification | TrekOhio one has good photos of the sori of Marginal Wood Fern (Dryopteris marginalis). Also, at the top of the page, they have a photo showing that the entire dot is considered a sorus, so the kidney shape of what is inside the dot doesn't change things. That page also has a really good photo of spleenwort sori, doesn't say which one. I see that Athyrium thelypterioides is considered a spleenwort (list is here). If one Athyrium is a spleenwort and has sori like that, does it follow that all Athyrium sori look like the one on the trekohio page? I can get out of my element really quickly. On the other hand, a query on Athyrium sori brings up ones like the spleenwort one on that page, to me very different from the Dryopteris dots. athyrium sori - Google Search

    The trekohio page also mentions for Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina): note the reddish stalk. Then they show another photo where the frond is more reddish at the bottom.

    Genus Characteristics (hardyferns.org) has short descriptions:
    Athyrium
    To sport - 180 species - temperate and tropical; deciduous; stipes usually stout and succulent; green or straw colored and long; fronds long thin textured; sori central with half moon shaped indusium opening along one side.
    Dryopteris
    Wood fern - 250 species (my original research indicated 1213 species - the botanical splitters have been at work) - worldwide; evergreen and deciduous, small to very large; sturdy; usually divided - often finely so; hybridizes frequently; sori central with kidney shaped indusium.

    I would have called yours Dryopteris, based on the same assumptions I made when I decided the name of the Stanley Park one. And deciduous with kidney-shaped things in the sori are consistent with that. The Missouri Botanical Garden page for D. filix-femina at Dryopteris filix-mas - Plant Finder says deciduous and also mentions sori close to the midvein, as yours are (and the Stanley Park one).
     
  5. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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