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where the red ferns grow

  • Subject: [ferns] where the red ferns grow
  • From: Duane & Dixie Petersen dpetersen11@cox.net
  • Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 11:11:53 -0600

	While my experiences with red new growth on ferns is limited to a few
species, there seem to be a few factors that seem to remain constant. 
In some adiantums no only is light a significant influence, but so is
temperature.  While many adiantums show red colors as new growth, they
show a significant difference in intensity of color when the
temperatures cool.  This is particularly true of the A. R.
mathewsii-microphyllum complex. During the high light of summer only a
few show significant coloration on the new fronds, but let the
temperatures drop below 60 degrees for a night or so and suddenly the
new growth becomes intensely red.  This is despite the lowering light
levels in winter.  Adiantum macrophyllum also shows a more intense red
during the cooler temperatures.  Many tenerum varieties also show color
and as an experiment I raised half of a batch of mixed sporlings in high
light (artificial) and the other half in natural, but lower light.  The
plants in 24 hours of artificial light were much more intensely colored,
this despite somewhat higher temperatures.  Of course to complete this
experiment I would have to raise half of these plants in 24 hours of
artificial lighting in a cool environment and the other half in natural
light with warmer conditions.									
 	Autumn ferns (dryopteris erythrosora) also show the influences of
light and temperature on their color.  Spring and fall seem give a
wonderful display of reds, oranges or maroons.  Summer growth, on the
other hand is slightly reddened or even a light green.  However, we
occasionally have a cool spell in Kansas during the middle of the
summer, and when we do the red fronds almost always show up again,
although with less intense colors than spring or fall.  This does not
negate the influence of light, however, since autumn ferns are shade
plants and they may actually receive more sun in the spring and fall
when the leaves of the shade trees may not have emerged and in autumn
may have already fallen. 

	In summary, my experiences with red coloration in new fronds seems to
show that this coloring may vary by species, variety, and individual
plant.  However, for most plants red coloration seems to depend both on
light and temperatures (with temperature being the most important) as
major factors.  There is also a genetic component to coloration.  Some
few adiantum's in each sporing will stubbornly remain green regardless
of temperature, light, or my wishes. Duane Petersen

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