Plant Guide > Ferns > Marsh Buckler Fern

Marsh Buckler Fern


MARSH BUCKLER FERN

NEPHRODIUM THELYPTERIS

Synonyms:
Lastrea Thelypteris
Hemestheum Thelypteris

The Marsh Buckler Fern has been described by botanists under the generic names of Polypodium, Acrosticum, Lastrea, and Polystichum, but has always retained its specific name, Thelypteris, which really means woman fern, referring possibly to its delicate growth. It has a short creeping root-stock, with single (not tufted) erect fronds, which are bipinnate and without glands. The fronds are of two kinds, barren and fertile; the former appear in May, the latter in July. The pinnules of the young frond stand out at right angles with the stem. The fertile fronds are much taller than the barren ones, sometimes attaining a height of three feet. The indusium covering the spore-cases is thin, and soon thrown off and lost.

This fern delights in marshy, boggy lands, and is found amongst sundews, heather, and asphodels: its distribution is very general. Where the soil is light and moist, so that the rhizome may extend itself with freedom, it is most abundant. It has disappeared from many districts where it once grew, on the introduction of drainage; this peculiarity will suggest the necessity for preventing the escape of moisture from its roots in cultivation.

In this country its distribution may be considered somewhat local, but it is to be found in most English counties, though rarely in Ireland and Scotland. In Wales it is not unfrequent, and near London it grows on Wimbledon Common and in Epping Forest. A botanical collector and enthusiast, writing from a spot in Warwickshire, where this fern formerly abounded, regrets its absence, and attributes it rather to the rapacity of other collectors than to the introduction of drainage and cultivation.

It should be borne in mind in gathering specimens for the herbarium, or in taking roots for cultivation under other circumstances, that in no place will the plant thrive so well as in its native soil, and that to remove the whole of a rare plant is perhaps to exterminate it for ever. Notwithstanding the difficulties we may expect to find in growing this fern artificially, Mr. Sowerby assures us that he has grown specimens for many years in common garden loam, the roots covered with black peat to prevent evaporation, and having no more than the usual watering given to its neighbours.