Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tongue fern: what's in a picture?

September 3, 2004
 I first obtained this fern not long before this picture was taken: a gift of Harlan Hamernik, co-founder of Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson, Nebraska who collected it in inner Mongolia. We didn't know at first what species it was--in fact I only determined it recently:  Pyrrosia petiolosa (click on the name--there's a description in the Flora of China for you) has accrued quite a vast literature due to its use as an herb. If you google the name you'll see plenty of papers on the flavinoids and chemicals that make this plant so useful to Chinese Medicine. I suspect the little rhizome Harlan teased out and brought home is trivial compared to the metric meters of this plant that have been collected for herbal use!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 7:54 PM
 This has been one of the pride and joys of my rock garden--although 99 out of 100 visitors probably don't notice it. Tony Avent did--and asked for a piece (I have yet to provide)--or even spore, which I keep forgetting to gather: I will do so this year for sure, Tony!

Monday, ‎August ‎23, ‎2010, ‏‎12:25:10 PM
 The reason I'm posting all these pictures (with their dates) is that I think this demonstrates why we nerdy gardeners take so many pictures: even a darned fern with no pinnation looks completely different at different times of the day, growth cycle, and as it expands in the garden! If you don't take pictures, you don't realize this! And we have all that wonderful meta-data one can mine!

Saturday, May 3, 2014 9:06 PM
 Look how different this one looks above, just beginning to unfurl a few fronds...

Friday, ‎May ‎23, ‎2014, ‏‎9:33:16 PM
 To this one, a mere twenty days later, still unfurling fronds...

Sunday, July 3, 2016 6:39 AM
And this one taken this summer, when I realized it had grown enough to dig a piece, which I did for Michael Bone, who'd been hinting rather boldly...and I thought I better do it before I lost the plant! A fern that hangs in through the last few horrendous winters deserves some attention!

Monday, ‎September ‎5, ‎2016, ‏‎8:00:30 PM
And here, a short while after a piece was taken from the middle, I put a rock to fill the cavity--you'd hardly know a bit chunk was missing! Hopefully, one day we can propagate this widely and spread it around. Probably the hardiest Pyrrosia, it may only appeal to connoisseurs...but then, if you've read this far, you must be one!


  1. A fern that does not look like most ferns.

  2. Many Pyrrosias are entire, more or less. And there are other similarly simple ferns, James--part of their charm!


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