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Botrychium multifidum-Grape Fern ?

Posted by Dicentra z6B (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 16, 05 at 20:40

I came across some leathery grape ferns (on private property) that I'd like to put in a shady area of my perennial garden. Has anyone had experience growing these amongst other ferns and hosta? They seem so carefree, maybe because of their broadleaf appeal.
Trish :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Botrychium multifidum-Grape Fern ?

Grape ferns are rare. They only send up two fronds, a photosynthetic and a reproductive frond, and then die back till next year. They should be left where they are. You could try your hands at some spores, but the mother plants might not survive the disturbance of transplanting, so should be left alone.


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RE: Botrychium multifidum-Grape Fern ?

Actually they are fairly common in the southeast and I have found that they transplant fairly well (we rescue them often on approved plant rescues). Southern grape fern (Botrychium biternatum)is the one we have and it sends up a new frond in the fall (now) which dies back in the spring (mature plants also send up the fertile frond). We also have rattlesnake fern (Botrychium virginianum), which sends up a new frond in the spring and dies back in the winter.


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RE: Botrychium multifidum-Grape Fern ?

actually the fact of the matter is most grape fern species are exeedingly rare and it is well known that they are difficult to cultivate because of the exacting condidtions they reqire. They just SEEM "carefree". I know this because i asked a fern expert and he told me so. You must just be lucky an i highly doubt that that high survival rate can be repecated by othe growers. Many scientists must study them in their natural habitat because they cant keep them alive in cultivation. You should leave them there. DO NOT remove them from their habitat.


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RE: Botrychium multifidum-Grape Fern ?

There's grape ferns and grape ferns, some quite common and some quite rare. There are three subgenera: subg. Botrychium, subg. Osmundopteris, & subg. Sceptridium... as it would happen, Botrychium multifidum and all the species that look at all like it (i.e., having relatively large, generally triangular and highly divided leaves) are in either subgenus Sceptridium or subgenus Osmundopteris, whereas all of the rare species in the US are in subgenus Botrychium, which are mostly very small, inconspicuous plants with ovate to lanceolate leaves that are at most pinnately divided. Likewise, difficulty of cultivation differs widely among subgenera; many of the members of subgenus Botrychium rely heavily on fungi and can be very difficult to cultivate. The members of subgenera Sceptridium and Osmundopteris, on the other hand, generally aren't too hard to cultivate though you have to take care to get a good amount of rhizome and have to protect them from drying out for a week or so after transplanting since they wilt very easily until they're established. The closely related genus Ophioglossum can even become weedy in greenhouse conditions (and, as it would happen, I've got a pot of it on my windowsill...).

The gist is... if it's Botrychium multifidum or looks like that species, it isn't rare and can be cultivated.

Patrick Alexander


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RE: Botrychium multifidum-Grape Fern ?

Actually the information i have found is quite to the contrary.

"There are four species in this group of Botrychium species with broadly triangular blades over 10 cm wide (often at least 15 cm) and with the fertile branch diverging far below the base of the sterile blade: B. multifidum, B. rugulosum, B. oneidense and B. dissectum var. obliquum "

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Further reaserbh reveals that some are rare. Such are B. oneidense (threatened), Botrychium rugulosum (rare, of special concern) and there is very little information on B. dissectum var. obliquum...

"There are a few characteristics that can aid in the admittedly difficult task of separating these species"

The gist is... if it looks like that species, theres a good possibility that it IS rare and should be left alone!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/herbarium/pteridophytes/botmul01.htm


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RE: Botrychium multifidum-Grape Fern ?

"Further reaserbh reveals that some are rare. Such are B. oneidense (threatened), Botrychium rugulosum (rare, of special concern)"

Both of those are listed as threatened/endangered in some states towards the peripheries of their ranges, but are not threatened at a large scale. This is a common pattern in a lot of species; for instance Aquilegia canadensis is listed as endangered in Florida despite being very widespread and not in any particular danger through most of its range; calling the species rare because of the Florida listing would be absurd.

"and there is very little information on B. dissectum var. obliquum..."

Botrychium dissectum var. obliquum is both quite common throughout a lot of the northeastern US and, more importantly, isn't a valid taxon to start with. The varieties of dissectum represent polymorphism within a single panmictic species rather than real entities; Mike Barker & Warren Hauk were the authors on the study demonstrating this, which IIRC was published in American Fern Journal.

""There are a few characteristics that can aid in the admittedly difficult task of separating these species"

The gist is... if it looks like that species, theres a good possibility that it IS rare and should be left alone!!!"

Differentiation of species within the subgenera can be very difficult, but differentiation of the subgenera from each other is very easy. And nothing within the subgenera Sceptridium & Osmundopteris are actually rare.

Patrick Alexander


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RE: Botrychium multifidum-Grape Fern ?

I live near the juncture of GA, SC, NC in the Appalachian Foothills. Botrychium dissectum, Common Grape Fern or Botrychium biternatum, Southern Grape Fern are very common in our area - they can often be seen in quantity growing along Forest Service Roads where they are mown annually. They are also very common on our property here in Mountain Rest, SC and I wouldnt hesitate to try transplanting some. Botrychium virginiana, Rattlesnake Fern, is also fairly common but doesnt seem to grow in mass like the others. Botrychium jenmanii, Alabama Grape Fern, is considered very rare in our area - Ive never seen it. Oddly enough Ophioglossum pycnostichum, Southeastern Adders Tongue, uncommon here, can sometimes be found in large patches in heavy forests although the patch may disappear in following years. I realize there is much taxanomic turmoil with the Botrychium but these names work for us in our local wildflower club. WS


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