San Diego Fern Society

March 2018

March Fern Society

Cindy Benoit of the San Diego County Fair
Garden Show will join us at 7:30pm Thursday, March 15, Casa del Prado Room 101, Balboa Park. Cindy is the Garden Show Coordinator and Cheri Kenney is the Assistant Coordinator. The Fern Society has entered the 2018 Fair with a Landscape Exhibit, to be ready by May 22. Cindy and Cheri work tirelessly to make the Garden Show a world-class event.

A registered Landscape Architect, Cynthia Benoit has created award-winning landscapes for urban areas including both residential and commercial facilities. You can view samples of her work on the website She will talk about the elements of good landscape design, ways to create different garden habitats that welcome plants such as ferns requiring shade and moisture yet integrate with sun loving plants. Cindy has great ideas for limited gardening space such as vertical gardens.

Fern Society members and others in the community may individually enter plants in the Container category. Directions are provided on page 4.

Report on February Fern Society

Candace Vanderhoff shared information on greywater systems. She also designs rain gardens and bioswales. Her program included the topic of native bees (different than honeybees), and how to make nesting sites to enhance their survival and the pollination of flowering plants, especially natives. Candace is a licensed architect and LEED Accredited Professional by the US Green Building Council, and a certified Permaculture Designer. Her websites are and

A native bee house in the snow waiting for spring, in Lassen County CA. The holes seen on the left are where the bees will lay eggs. Native bees are solitary and rarely sting, but they efficiently pollinate our fruits and vegetables. Photo credit: K. Russell.

Unusual plants, hiding in the garden

fern Kathy's roof1
Looking up, Kathy Thomson spotted a fern in an unusual place, her roof. This plant may be a Phlebodium pseudoaureum. Photo credit: K. Thomson.
Ferns of Seychelles Islands

Large ferns including tree ferns grace the island of Mahé, Republic of Seycelles. Cyathea sechellarum is endemic, that is, found only in Seychelles. Fronds are bipinnate and the tree fern may grow more than 30 feet tall. Found in higher elevation forests, it is considered threatened. The common name for this tree fern in Seychelles Islands is Fanzan.

C sechellarum1
Cyathea sechellarum growing in Seychelles Islands. Photos credit: Bruno Senterre. Used by permission.

Some other ferns have fronds as large as Fanzan but the stem is along the ground, not erect. Notable among them is Angiopteris evecta, found in the mountain ravines. Its fronds may extend 30 feet. This plant has the local name Baton monsennyer. Another fern, Angiopteris madagascariensis, is common to the islands and also Mauritius and Madagascar.

In 2011 two new fern species were verified for Seychelles including an Angiopteris discovered by Dr Bruno Senterre, working with the Seychelles National Herbarium. This new fern is called Angiopteris chongsengiana, honoring local naturalist Lindsay Chong-Seng. It is considered to be an endangered species, growing in remote mountain ravines on the island of Mahé.

Angiopteris chonsengiana1
Angiopteris chongsengiana.
Photo credit: Isabelle Fabre.

In Morne Seychellois National Park, moss forest is found at about 1800 feet elevation. Tree trunks, branches and the forest floor are cover by mosses, liverworts, ferns and other plants. Here there are about eight species of filmy ferns of the genera Hymenophyllacaea and Polypodiidae. The leaves are mostly just one cell thick, and plants may lack roots. In this area Dr Senterre found the smallest fern of the Seychelles with leaves less than 1 cm, that is, less than a half inch. This tiny fern grows in the mosses of tree trunks in high elevation forests.

Asplenium paucijugum1
Asplenium paucijugum growing on Silhouette Island, in Seychelles. Several species of Aspleniums are found on the islands. Photo credit: Bruno Senterre.

selaginella willdenowii1
Selaginella willdenowii growing against a tree on the island of Mahé. This tropical plant may sprawl or show erect growth, extending as much as 20 feet. In deep shade, leaves may show the blue iridescence that suggests the common name, Peacock Fern. Seychelles has several Selaginellas, as well as Huperzias, Lycopodiella and Psilotums. For these plant types, see the chart of Classification of the Ferns and Fern Allies, February 2018 Fern World, page 3.

There have been published studies of the ferns in Seychelles since the late 1800s. In recent years botanists have worked to verify the older findings and update the flora records. Dr Bruno Senterre suggests that ferns help in understanding different habitat types, and there are likely still species to be discovered. Explorations by fern specialists are needed on the highest mountains and nearby ravines, a task for botanist adventurers.

Then again, a few ferns of the Seychelles grow in San Diego area gardens. Ferns such as Blechnum gibbum, Asplenium nidus, Pteris cretica and Adiantum hispidulum may be familiar to fern growers of the United States. Psilotum nudum, found in Seychelles, can sometimes become something of a weed in plant collections. However most of the 90 or so species from Seychelles will be new to Americans and certainly of interest to fern enthusiasts.

Davailia denticulata1
Davallia denticulata growing against rock on the island of Mahé. Another tropical fern, this one is obviously attractive and considered easy to grow. It is found across tropical Asia and islands.


  1. Falola, T. and Jean-Jacques, D. (Eds.). (2016). Africa: An encyclopedia of culture and society. Abcclio. Retrieved from Credo Academic Core.
  2. Hoshizaki, B. and Moran, R. (2001). Fern grower's manual. Portland, OR: Timber Press.
  3. Large, M.F., & Braggins, J.E. (2004). Tree ferns. Portland, OR: Timber Press.
  4. Senterre, Bruno. (2010). Ferns and filmy ferns of the Seychelles - still species to discover or rediscover. Kapisen. 10. 10-12.
  5. Official tourism website.

Enter the Fair:

fair 20181

The San Diego County Fair will be open to the public from June 1 to July 4 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays in June). The Fair had over 1.5 million visitors in 2017. Fair guests consistently praise the Garden Show in surveys, and it remains an important and inviting area, just off the main entrance. Several festivals bring guests into the Garden Show, such as June 2-3 Flower Festival and Art Walk, June 9 "Toast of the Coast" Wine Festival, June 11 San Diego Horticultural Society "Night at the Fair" and June 24 "My Big Fair Wedding Day." For 2018 the Gardens have the theme, Living the Sweet Life.

San Diego Fern Society has entered a Landscape exhibit for the 2018 Fair. This exhibit will be set up during May 7 to 22. Kathy Thomson and helpers are designing the plans, and workers are specifically needed on Saturdays May 12 and May 19. Plan to come in the morning and check with Kathy Thomson regarding unloading plants if you need to drive inside. On May 12 the hardscape and structure will be laid out. We will install a small patio area using temporary materials such as brick or flat stone. The design includes taller structures and/or plants. There may be a water feature. Large items such as trees may be brought in beginning Monday, May 7 until the morning of May 12.

On Friday and/or Saturday May 18 and 19, we will install ferns and other plants. They should be about 1 gallon size containers or larger, to reduce need for constant water. Very small ferns are difficult to keep in good condition for the entire duration of the Fair until July 4. After Saturday May 19, the sign with the landscape plan and listing of fern names will be completed and installed. Our exhibit usually has many kinds of ferns, so this is a challenge. Persons who loan plants for the exhibit should put in a small tag with the plant botanical name and the owner's name. Fair take down is July 5.

The Garden Show has a division for container plants which is open to individuals. From the website choose
Participate, Competetive Exhibits, Garden Show, Enter by May 4. Individual containers for the Garden Show require a processing fee of $10 by credit card and must be delivered on May 24-25. In Category 2003 Container Plants, there is a Class 005 for Ferns & Tropicals.

Membership Renewal Time

Membership is $12 for a person or household. Please renew now, for your enrollment through December 2018. Sign up at the March meeting 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.

More Adventures at the Fair

Those who enjoy the Garden Show may also like to visit the Flower Show and Floral Design exhibits, usually in the nearby O'Brien Hall. The Farm area north of the racetrack is always interesting as well.
Hemionitis arifolia

nursery Armstrong1
Above: Hemionitis arifolia ferns for sale at Armstrong Garden Center. Photo credit: K. Russell.

Below: Hemionitis arifolia growing in nature in India. Note the rocky location and possible upright dried fertile fronds. These plants remain small in size. Photo credit: Yercaud-elango, Creative Commons.
Hemionites arifolia India1

The Hemionitis ferns are small plants from tropical locations. In nature they grow in the ground or on rocks. Most of the seven or so species are from the American tropics.

In contrast, Hemionitis arifolia grows in the Asian tropics from Philippines and Taiwan through China, Southeast Asia and India. With nurseries carrying this plant, ferns growers may wish to learn the optimal conditions for Hemionitis arifolia.

Armstrong Garden Center recommends medium light indoors for Hemionitis arifolia, although the plants were photographed in the outdoor shade area of the nursery. Their website suggests moisture and good drainage, and dilute fertilizer. The cooler indoors provides a suitable environment.

If planting outdoors, choose a protected and humid location. A greenhouse or humidity house is probably better for the San Diego area.

There are two types of fronds on Hemionitis arifolia, the heart-shaped sterile fronds and fertile triangular fronds, not seen in the photos.


  2. Hoshizaki, B. and Moran, R. (2001). Fern grower's manual. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

2018: The Year of the Garden

Springtime is great for fern shopping as nurseries get deliveries of new plants. With this month's meeting program on garden design, some fern growers may need a large specimen plant for their garden space. Tree ferns such as Dicksonia antarctica can provide a focus, with other ferns and companion plants nearby. Dicksonia antarctica withstands cooler conditions than other tree ferns and is somewhat slow growing. It can also be kept in a container.

tree fern1
Dicksonia antarctica available recently at Armstrongs Nursery. This five-gallon size tree fern will have a good start toward becoming a garden fern tree. Photo credit: K. Russell.

San Diego Fern Society Officers
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
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
4780 Glen
La Mesa CA 91941

The San Diego Fern Society was established in 1976 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, and exhibits; 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.

Volume XXXXII, Number 3