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Re: Filmy ferns and wardian cases

  • Subject: [ferns] Re: Filmy ferns and wardian cases
  • From: "Brian Swale" bj@caverock.net.nz
  • Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2006 17:04:54 +1200
  • In-reply-to: <200604100401.k3A413323738@lorien.mallorn.com>

John wrote
> I've had what looks suspiciously like a filmy fern appear in in one of my older
> gametophyte pots. I sowed the pot over four years ago with mixed filmy fern
> spore I had collected just over a week previously on one of my trips to New
> Zealand ( where I grew up ). The pot lives in a plastic bag and this is the
> first sporeling from that sowing that has a filmy fern look about it. The bush
> on my parents' farm was carpeted with various filmy ferns, so I'd like to think
> I've a reasonable chance of being able to recognise one when I see it.
> Does anybody have any suggestions on how to deal with filmy ferns? The humidity
> here in Sweden is far too low most of the time, so I'm considering setting up a
> Wardian Case using a small aquarium to house the fern. I've got a coolish corner
> under some stairs and a short distance from a window on the shady side of the
> house lined up for the case. A small leafy liverwort has appeared in the same
> pot, so that'll probably end up there as well. I am a bit worried about mold, is
> there anything else I should be watching out for?
> The fern seems quite happy where it is, so I'm not going to rush things - it
> only needs one failure to wipe out my entire stock of the fern.
> cheers, John.

I have used a variety of small air-tight containers for high-humidity ferns, with 
mixed success, and usually ultimate failure.  Even large perspex containers 
in the end resulted in failure, for a variety of  reasons.

It is very easy to fail to maintain the cultures. They are easy to overlook. 
Neglect is another name for it ;-((

In nature, they are regularly washed by rain to remove slime moulds and the 
like, and this doesn't happen in small terraria or Wardian cases. Also, in 
nature they have a plentiful supply of fresh air, and that is usually not what 
applies in a case.

I suppose it would be possible to make a case that provided for spray 
irrigation and took away the overflow - leachate.

Another aspect is the usual difficulty of keeping the glass etc clean. Often 
this gets covered with green algae. Usually these cases are difficult to get at 
the interior of.

Many of the NZ species can take bright light for 30 minutes+  per day.

Remember that many of the NZ species grow pendant from the trunks of tree 
ferns where they may get dried a little during daylight hours. They are fussy 
about their specific requirements though.

Which reminds me; about the culture of Psilotum nudum. I have found that in 
a house it is quite capable of invading pots of other genera; tuberous 
Begonia, Nephrolepus, and so on, The spore floats around with great ease.

The prothalli of this species and probably of Lycopodium spp live a 
subterranean life. The discovery and scientific work on them was done by a 
Rev. Holloway in the 1800's who botanised in his spare time..


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