The San Diego Fern Society will meet Thursday December 21, 2017 at 6:30pm in Room 101, Casa del Prado, Balboa Park. This month we will enjoy a dinner of ham and turkey, with potluck for side dishes.

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For seasonal color, look no farther than the fern garden. This Malaysian fern, Pteris aspericaulis var. tricolor shows red, green and white on two foot long fronds. Woodblock print from Lowe, E.J. (1871) New and rare ferns. London: Bell and Daldy.

Report on November Meeting

In November, special guest Dr Michael Kelner discussed toxicity of Bracken Fern and its possible use in cancer treatment. Bracken produces toxins, causing poisoning symptoms in animals and grave concerns for human consumption. Eating Bracken Fern is not recommended.

However certain toxins from the fern may have positive use, for treating cancers that have not responded to the usual treatments and chemotherapies. In some cases the toxic element kills off the tumor/cancer cells while leaving the healthy cells alive. A great deal of research has gone in to finding drug dosages, delivery methods and so forth. But this option holds promise for cancer remission when other treatments were unsuccessful. Currently two of his drugs (semi-synthetic products based on Bracken Fern constituents) are in clinical trials for multi-drug resistant metastatic prostate cancer and multi-drug resistant metastatic ovarian cancer.

December Annual Meeting and Party

This year’s party is on Thursday, December 21. For 2017, there is no charge for members and their reserved guests. Delicious ham and turkey will be provided by the Society, as well as beverages, rolls and butter. We ask each household to bring a side dish or dessert (with serving utensil) to feed 8-10 people as well as your own tableware. Room 101 is reserved for us starting at 5pm. Please arrive by 6pm to set out your dishes ahead so we can begin the dinner at 6:30. Following our meal we will hold elections and Installation of Officers for 2018.

Entertainment is planned for the Party, and the Fern Society would like to gift a lovely fern to each household attending. For those who did not already put in a reservation at the November meeting, please send email with the number in your party no later than Tuesday December 19 to:
Alternately, leave a phone message at Kathie Russell's home phone (answering machine).

Election of Officers

Nominations to fill the positions of Fern Society officers and Board members for the coming year 2018 were presented at the November meeting. The Fern Society currently has an opening for a Treasurer. The past Treasurer, Jay Amshey, will assist a new Treasurer in the transition.

Elections are held at the Annual Meeting of the San Diego Fern Society in December, followed by Installation of Officers.

Nominations to date are:
President Kathy Thomson
st Vice President Paula Couterier
nd Vice President Bart Keeran
Secretary Kathie Russell
Treasurer OPEN
Board Members:
Bruce Barry
Bob Charlton
Richard Lujan

Past President (automatically on the Board):
Don Callard

Membership Renewal Time

Membership is $12 for a person or household. Please renew for the coming year now, for your enrollment through December 2018. See Jay Amshey or mail to the address on page 6. Please keep the Fern Society up to date on your preferred mailing and email addresses and phone number.

January Garden Visit

Rather than a meeting in Balboa Park, in January we are invited to Don Callard's garden. Save the date: Saturday January 27.
For the coming year 2018, several Fern Society members have invited guests to visit their gardens. Watch the coming newsletters for details.

Unusual plants, hiding in the garden

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A beauty found in Bob Charlton's patio in July 2017, Adiantum tenerum 'Livianum' is a cultivar showing interesting color and form. Adiantum tenerum is native to tropical America. It should be grown in shade, kept moist and protected from cold. Photo credit: K. Russell.

Winter care for ferns
in the coming year 2018

In subtropical gardens, the ferns may grow slowly but will need winter watering if rain is insufficient. Ferns that are semi-dormant, such as most temperate climate Maidenhair Ferns, can be trimmed of old fronds. Tropical ferns need protection from cold.

Some ferns go completely dormant and lose their fronds or the fronds become brown. The gardener should take note of the location of these ferns, perhaps marking or labeling them. They may need a little water and should grow again in early spring.

Ferns for Santa

Reindeer live in Greenland as well as other northern places. Most of us in southern climates would consider Greenland to be territory for Santa Claus, with lots of cold and snow. But like many seemingly inhospitable locations, ferns are growing there too.

A long ago plant survey of southeastern Greenland found two Lycopodiums and Selaginella selaginoides. S. selaginoides may also be found in British Columbia and Alaska in low to middle elevations, and forms mats of distinctive yellow-green growth.

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Selaginella selaginoides in the Tatra Mountains, Europe.
Photo credit: Jerzy Opiola, Creative Commons.

Several ferns are in southeastern Greenland as well, including two horsetails, Equisetum variegatum and Equisetum arvense. E. arvense and to a lesser extent E. variegatum are found over much of North America. These plants are common in the study area.

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Equisitum variegatum grown in a dish garden in Japan.
Photo credit: Jnn, Creative Commons.

Three species of Botrychium ferns were documented although they were rare. Botrychium lunaria, growing to just six inches tall in Greenland, has a wide range across the northern hemisphere from Alaska to Greenland and Eurasia, as well as locations in South America and Australia. These plants are sometimes called Moonworts. They are not suggested for cultivation.

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Botrychium lunaria in Finland. Photo credit: Alinja, Creative Commons.

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Asplenium viride or Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum was found growing in cracks in rock or on small ledges in Greenland. This plant has a small occurrence in California mountains, and is also growing in Alaska and Western States, and areas of Canada, Europe and Asia.

Athyrium alpestre is fairly common in this area of Greenland, generally at somewhat higher elevation rather than on the coast. Also found in areas of Canada, Athyrium alpestre has a native range in the mountains of the western US at elevations of 2000 to 10,000 feet. This fern needs acidic, moist soil and is considered challenging to grow in the garden.

Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum is a small fern found
growing on rocks. This plant, in Snoqualmie National Forest
in Washington, was photographed on a day that it snowed. Asplenium viride or Asplenium trichomanes-ramosum is
very cold-adapted, growing in the north near the Arctic
Circle. Photo credit: K. Russell.

A fern near a stream in Idaho, tentatively identified as Athyrium alpestre, the Alpine Lady Fern. Photo credit: T. Russell.

Cystopteris fragilis seems to be the most common fern of Southeast Greenland, growing at elevations up to 3000 feet. These small deciduous ferns can be found across northern North America and the American West, and other areas around the world. In California, Cystopteris fragilis is found in many parts of the state excluding deserts. In San Diego County, this fern has been recorded in multiple inland and mountain locations such as Laguna Mountains, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Palomar Mountain. In the temperate climate garden, plants are very hardy (cold tolerant) and should be kept moist. This fern is considered easy to grow but not in warm climates.

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Cystopteris fragilis (tentative identification) in early summer, growing in the high Sierras near Frazier Falls in Plumas National Forest, California. Photo credit: K. Russell.

Dryopteris filix-mas was found in Greenland growing up to 30 inches tall. Also found were plants of D. linnaeana, D. phegopteris, and D. spinulosa. Of these, only D. filix-mas seems to be common in cultivation. Considered a hybrid, it is found in North America and Europe. Plants are deciduous in northern areas but semi-evergreen in warmer climates. The similar fern Dryopteris arguta is found naturally in most non-desert areas of San Diego County, becoming semi-dormant in the dry season and difficult to grow in cultivation.

Dryopteris filix-mas growing near Oslo, Norway.
Photo credit: Bjoertvedt, Creative Commons.

Polystichum lonchitis, somewhat common on grassy slopes of the study area, grew up to 16 inches tall. This fern is native to northern North America as well as Greenland. It is considered difficult to grow in the garden.

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Polystichum lonchitis in North Cascades National Park, Washington, growing at 5700 feet elevation. Photo credit:
Walter Siegmund, Creative Commons.

Woodsia alpina was found in Greenland, though rare and small (2 inches tall). Woodsia ilvensis was common in southeast Greenland on dry ground, usually less than 4 inches tall. W. alpina is now considered a hybrid, related to W. ilvensis. In the US, it is found in Alaska, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont, as well as Canada and Greenland, and northern Europe and Asia. The range of Woodsia ilvensis is similar. The Woodsias are sometime called the Cliff Ferns due to their tendency to grow on rocks. The fronds are deciduous, dying back in winter. This fern is not recommended for warmer climate gardens.

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Woodsia ilvensis growing in Northern Europe. Photo credit: Urjanhai, Creative Commons.

It should not be surprising that Santa's ferns from Greenland do not usually make good garden choices for San Diego. However, many of these interesting plants can be seen in nature in California and beyond. The fern explorer might wish to study them in order to recognize the ferns while enjoying the outdoors. Understanding their characteristics and habitat may enhance one's personal enjoyment of beautiful ferns and of being out in the natural environment.


    2018: The year of the garden

    Fern enthusiasts are invited to begin 2018 with a January visit to a local private garden in order to view Don Callard's fine collection of Platyceriums and various tropical and subtropical ferns and plants. Later in 2018, additional outings to member's gardens are planned. There is no better way to learn about fern growing in the San Diego area than to see successfully grown garden ferns and also learn about other, more challenging plants.
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    The Callard jungle in 2015. Photo credit: Kathy Thomson.

    San Diego Fern Society Officers
    Kathy Thomson
    1st Vice President OPEN
    2nd Vice President
    Bart Keeran
    Kathie Russell
    Jay Amshey
    Board Members:
    Bruce Barry
    Bob Charlton
    Richard Lujan
    Past President
    Don Callard

    Webmaster: Bob Charlton

    Fern Society email

    Bring $12 cash or check (payable to San Diego Fern Society) to a meeting
    or mail to:
    San Diego Fern Society
    2350 Jennifer Ln
    Encinitas CA 92024

    The San Diego Fern Society was formed to provide a source of information on ferns; to arrange for people to study ferns together; to encourage the use and enjoyment of ferns in gardens, patios, and the home.

    The Society aims to encourage all horticultural activities by example, education, exhibits, and donations; to interest people in the beauty and satisfaction to be found in garden, patio and home living; to promote and stimulate interest in ferns; to encourage and develop culture of various types and varieties of ferns; to provide for the exchange and dissemination among Society members of information relating to culture of ferns.