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Re: Gleichenia

I have heard that a fern in the Gleicheniaceae was grown at RBG Kew in a special bracken-peat substrate. Apparently, these ferns are very particular about substrate and quite sensitive to nutrient levels (which should be very low). Christopher Page mentions efforts to cultivate Gleicheniaceae ferns in his article "Adaptive ancientness of vascular plants to exploitation of low-nutrient substrates -- a neobotanical overview" in The Evolution of Plant Physiology: From Whole Plants to Ecosystems":


Unfortunately, I don't have my copy of that article handy, but will share more if I can track it down.

I think that inorganic substrates, such as those used in hydroponics, might be promising for the Gleicheniaceae, but I don't know whether there have been any attempts to grow them in such substrates.

- Chad Husby
Miami, FL

At 08:34 AM 2/19/2005, you wrote:
Does anyone have experience with growing the forking ferns from spore?

The "Fern Grower's Manual" has an entry on the family Gleicheniaceae calling it
difficult, slow. The smaller Gleichenia are said to be cultivated in New
Zealand and Australia.

In habitat Gleichenia umbraculifera does not look difficult at all. It grows
streamside or in damp meadows, competing easily with the grasses, at moderate
elevations, 1000-2000 m, in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, in neighboring
provinces, and in Zimbabwe. It is one of the smaller members of the genus,
topping out at 50-60 cm. The habitat at the higher end of its elevational range
is probably Zone 8.

I ask because the spore is greenish-yellow and green spore are commonly said to
have short viability. Perhaps more pertinent than color, the family is
considered relatively primitive based upon the sporangial structure; some
primitive ferns, such as Osmunda, have short life. Has anyone grown Gleichenia
from stored spore?

Tom Stuart, New York

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