Re: Name of this fern?
> Does anyone know the name of this small fern.
We do like a challenge. Let's see. Eleven thousand ferns. Eeny meeny miney mo.
Some clues beyond a photo would be helpful, like which continent you are on. I
am going to make a wild stab: you are in the UK, Larry. Other guesses: you
don't live next to the National Collection of Exotic Ferns, the bonsai pot has
been in your possession for some time, and the pot spends the summer outdoors.
Given all that we are down to fifty ferns. This one is young, probably lacking
the full adult characteristics. For example it will likely be more divided when
mature than now. Its general demeanor or habit gives one the impression of the
wood fern family or its relations. We cannot see much of the stipe, in
particular the base, where there may or may not be scales. (A close-up of
scales or hairs is helpful in diagnosis.)
Sori can be diagnostic, but one assumes this fern is too young to have them.
Incidentally, how old is it?
In general plan Cystopteris fragilis comes to mind, and though it is quite
varied around the world, I've not seen any form with margins so spiny. Let's
rule this out.
The spiny margins make one think of Polystichum, but some other characteristics
are missing: there is no upward-pointing ear at the base of the pinna, there is
no glossiness, the depressions on the rachis and costa seem to run into each
other, not stop before meeting as they do in Polystichum. None of these
characters are always part of Polystichum, but taken together I think they rule
The lady fern, Athyrium filix-femina, can have a spiny margin, but has longer
pinnules than here and develops this adult characteristic very quickly.
Consistent with what we see, however, is your hunch of Dryopteris. Among the
Dryopteris in the UK, there are three with spiny margins and at least twice-
divided: carthusiana, dilatata, and expansa. This does not resemble any of
these as adults, so one would need familiarity with sporelings. Bottom line: no
ID yet, but pick up C.N. Page's "Ferns of Britain and Ireland" to help you as
And if you are not in the UK or the bonsai came from a nursery last fall or
your plants are strictly house plants, then all the above is drivel.
Welcome, Larry, and you have accomplished a first: no one else here has
admitted liking any plant that is not a fern. :-)
Tom Stuart, New York
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