Plant Guide > Ferns > Filmy Fern

Filmy Fern



Trichomanes tunbridgense

The Filmy Ferns are moss-like plants, the name s derived from two Greek words, signifying membrane and leaf.

This little fern has a creeping root with minute twisted fibres. The fronds are not above two or three inches long, pinnate, lanceolate in general outline, and of an olive-brown tint. The veins are so strongly marked that they may be said to form the fronds, the leafy part being a very delicate membranous kind of wing on each side. The clusters of capsules are formed round the axis of a vein which runs beyond the margin of the frond: it is inclosed in a kind of cup which. forms the involucre.

The tufts of this fern grow so closely together, and are of such a brown tint of colour, that they may almost be taken for a kind of moss, or for a withered plant. The whole family are the smallest of our native ferns, and although so delicate in form and texture, retain their appearance well, when dried, in the herbarium. Both species may be distinguished from other ferns by the matted growth of their threadlike roots, and their thin membranous appearance.

This fern is not confined to the neighbourhood of Tunbridge Wells, although, being first found there, it was named accordingly. It grows in many parts of the United Kingdom in mountainous and rocky districts; among moss on the trunks and roots of old trees near lakes or rivulets; and in many moist and shady places. It is found in many parts of the Continent; and is everywhere a pleasing variety amidst other ferns and wild plants.

This species, according to Mr. Newman, prefers shade, warmth, and shelter; whilst its ally, Hymemophyllum unilaterale, establishes itself on bleak exposed situations.

It can be grown successfully in the open air by imitating its natural condition; and under glass, if certain conditions be attended to; viz. - a close atmosphere, shade, moderate warmth, constant but not stagnant moisture, and a porous surface.