Broad Prickly Toothed FernBROAD PRICKLY-TOOTHED FERN OR CRESTED FERN
The Broad Prickly Toothed Fern or Crested Fern is one of the most common and generally distibuted of British ferns, growing in woods and on sheltered hedgebanks everywhere. It is classed by many botanists as a variety only of Nephrodium spinulosum. Sir W. Hooker favours this view, though by Mr. Moore and Mr. Lowe it has many varieties attached to itself; but who shall decide where botanists disagree? For all our purposes we may consider it, I think, a distinct species.
Unlike spinulosum, the rhizome is not all creeping, it rarely branches, but forms a strong, enduring, erect, stem-like base, that not unfrequently rises from six inches to a foot above the soil. The fronds are pinnate; the pinnae nearly opposite; the pairs gradually approximate from the base towards the apex; the first and second pairs are very broad at the base, the third pair longer and narrower, and so on with the rest until they reach the apex of the frond.
According to Babington, this species is distinguished chiefly by having the stipes clothed with long, pointed scales, with a dark centre and diaphanous margin. It is a very variable fern, and can with difficulty be recognised as a species even by the experienced botanist. Mr. Johnson likens the clusters of this noble fern to Corinthian columns, the caudex and base of the fronds representing the column, and the feathery arching foliage the capital.
Its colour is sunny green, often shading to a delicate tint at the points of the pinnae. It is a fern worthy of all admiration, and in its native position - bending over the waters of some gurgling stream, with its arched fronds sprinkled with dew, like diamonds - it is a beautiful object to behold. It flourishes best in a rich loam soil with abundant moisture.