Chaparral Fern Project

Saratoga horticultural research endowment

Chaparral Fern Project

Saratoga Horticultural Research Endowment

Growth for the Chaparral Ferns in March

April 3, 2020

It is spring time in the Garden, and a flourish of new growth has been recorded for the Pellaea mucronata ferns located in the Plant Communities. The number of unfurled fronds, or fiddleheads, range from 6 to 16, with an average of 10 fiddleheads per plant. The Pellaea mucronata are also pushing out new growth on the east-facing slope site by the Majestic Oak, but with fiddlehead counts ranging from 0 to 10, with an average of 4.5 fiddleheads per fern. Several of the Pellaea andromedifoliahave also shown new growth, with an average of 4 fiddleheads per fern in both locations.

The Pentagramma triangularis, which was displaying a rather compact, basal form in the nursery pots at the time of planting, is now assuming a more natural growth habit, with its long dark stems extending up to 10 inches in height. There have been three losses of Pentagramma triangularis on the slope, but those are most likely due to their condition at planting; controlling for those losses, the Pentagramma triangularis have seen similar growth trends on both the slope and the communities sites.  

The Dryopteris arguta are also starting to push out some new growth, and have already unfurled some new fronds this season. The Dryopteris on the east-facing slope have an average of one fiddlehead per fern.

The growth index rate of the Selaginella bigelovii is increasing very slowly on the well-draining soil of the communities, while those plants on the slope have not seen a lot of new growth, but still seem to be doing well.  

Many of the Myriopteris covillei seem to be struggling. Those that were more robust at the time of planting have still continued to be vigorous, with several new fiddleheads, ranging from 1 to 4 per fern in the communities, and 1 to 6 per fern on the east-facing slope. It will be interesting to see how they progress with time.

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