When I saw this plant in a conservatory, I thought there was an oak tree growing. I discovered it was the oakleaf basket fern (Dyanaria quercifolia). Quercus is the genus name of oak trees, so quercifolia means the foliage resembles oak leaves. The shield fronds of the oakleaf basket fern look like fall oak leaves after they turn brown. The first set of pictures is from the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, Ohio. I need one of these ferns for my collection.
The Drynaria ferns are basket ferns. They have two different kinds of fronds making them dimorphic plants. The sterile or shield fronds, which hold the plant to whatever it is growing on, form a “basket”. It collects debris that falls from other plants, animal droppings, and water. As the debris decomposes, it supplies nutrients to the plant. The green or photosynthesizing fronds are fertile and produce spores.
Epiphytes are fascinating because they grow without soil. I have many tillandsias but one of my favorite groups of plants is ferns, so epiphytic ferns intrigue me. These ferns are in the Polypodiaceae family of mostly epiphytic ferns. As you can see below, the plant in the Krohn Conservatory is growing on and up a tree. Though it looks like it is strangling the tree, it isn’t hurting it as it isn’t a parasite.
The next set of pictures is from the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio in 2015. This fern is growing on rocks which makes it an epipetric plant (growing on rocks). Isn’t it crazy that ferns can grow on rocks?
If you were to see this plant in its natural habitat, you would need to visit India, Malaysia, or Australia. But, of course, you can visit a conservatory near you and you may be lucky enough to find one. If you see one in a tree in Australia, be careful, as they have found pythons residing in the fronds of the fern. Yikes! I like them in the conservatory-just sayin’…..
Have a great week, plant friends!