Today I took some pics of the fabulous ferns I have growing in the garden. These shade loving plants really brighten up a dull corner and there are numerous types around. The most common ferns are the so called 'Male fern' (Dryopteris filix mas) which can also be found growing wild in shady woodland, especially along the banks of streams, though do not dig plants up from the wild...it's illegal.
It's hardy and once the spring arrives, the new fronds are one of the first to emerge.
Like most ferns, it reproduces by spores which are produced in the sori, small reproductive bodies found under the fronds in midsummer.
Another common fern, also found in the wild in damp places, is the Hart's tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium). The tough, glossy leaves give it an exotic look, and like the fern above, the spores are born on the underside of them. It's an unusual fern in that the leaves are simple and undivided. The sori have a fanciful resemblance to a centipede's legs and the Latin scolopendrium means 'centipede'. Here it is emerging in the spring.
Later, the bars of sori can be seen under the leaves. These ferns pop up all over the place in the garden once the spores germinate.
Here's a third diminutive fern, belonging to the same family as the one above, the Common Spleenwort, or Maidenhair spleenwort as it's sometimes called (Asplenium trichomanes). This can also be found growing wild...in fact I once found several growing in a road drain outside my house!
The next fern is the Holly fern (from the shape of the fronds), aka Fortune's Cyrtomium. (Cyrtomium fortunei). The pale green, leathery fronds have darker, almost black veins, wiry stems and are semi evergreen, sometimes persisting throughout the winter.
Young frond uncurling.
The sori on the underside of the frond.
...and a closer look.
The next couple are a bit more exotic and go by the name of Japanese Painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum). There are several varieties and they all have coloured fronds, though they tend to be brightest on mature plants. 'Ursula's Red is probably the most striking...(this pic from the net as mine aren't mature enough yet)
This is one of mine at the moment...it might take another year or two to fully develop the colour...something they don't tell you in the catalogues.
This variety just goes by the name f. metallicum, and the fronds are a metallic silver with maroon veining.
Next, here's another Dryopteris, (D. erythrosora) the 'Buckler fern'. This beautiful fern has copper/bronze coloured young fronds which gradually change to bright green as the season progresses. All the ferns mentioned in this thread are hardy in the UK.
The fronds slowly turn green as the sori develop on their undersides.
Finally, there is my favourite, the Shuttlecock fern, (Matteuccia struthiopteris). These large, bright green ferns look like a shuttlecock (hence the name) and look magnificent in a group. They differ from the other ferns as the spores are born on special fertile fronds that appear towards the end of the season and persist into the new year. They also form an upright stump, from the top of which they appear in the spring rather like the more expensive New Zealand tree fern. Their only bad habit is that they spread like mad by underground stolons and pop up all over the place, including in the lawn, but are easily pulled out or mown off. It is also called the Ostrich feather fern.
Emerging in spring.
They look really majestic in a group...
The special fertile fronds just developing...
Here's the stump similar to a tree fern...they get taller each year. This one's about 5 years old now and about 8 inches (200mm) tall.