This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The present subject is an exception to the other British species of Lastroea, inasmuch as it possesses truly a creeping root, whereas in the other species no one can really be said to do so; although I have observed some of the forms of L. spinosa approaching to that state, especially when growing in naked and sterile situations; but this I consider to be common to many other plants searching for food. Notwithstanding that L. thelypteris is invariably an inhabitant of boggy places, still it bears cultivation extremely well, as I have had it growing beautifully for several years in light sandy loam, with a small portion of heath-mould. To me this is rather a remarkable Fern, as some twenty-five years ago I found it growing by the acre, but not one fructified frond could I detect in the immense mass, although I visited the station two seasons. I, however, have since found it within a mile and a half of my own home with fronds two feet high, and in a fine state of fructification. The long slender stipes and altogether delicate texture of the barren fronds will always serve to distinguish it from any other British Lastrsea. It requires a well-sheltered nook in the fernery, as the wind is very apt to injure the tender fronds, - more especially when in the state of development.
The fronds are pinnate, and the pinnae pinnatifid.
Again we have another instance of a Fern generally found in boggy and moist heathy places, difficult to cultivate. I have repeatedly tried to cultivate it in both peat and heath-mould, but with very little success, until I applied a large proportion of light sandy loam, in which it did tolerably well. I, however, ultimately found that it luxuriated best in nothing but loam, in fact in any thing apart from its parent soil. It may be said that the habitats of this beautiful Fern are not really boggy places; but if not so, they are, at all events, places that have been for the most part inundated during the winter months. I never saw it fine on comparatively dry heaths; but in bogs associated with Sphagnum obtusi-folium and Athyrium filix fcemina, I have seen splendid specimens, producing fronds from two to three feet high; and indeed wherever Sphagnum of any kind grows, it is scarcely necessary to say that the soil is generally very moist, if not altogether boggy. On heaths in sub-alpine countries the fronds are usually very meagre compared with those found in such stations as I have referred to above.
The under-sides of the fronds in this species present beautiful objects to the eye when in a state of fructification, the whole being of a fine orange colour, and the sori, or clusters of reproductive organs, which, by the way, are very small indeed and thickly set on the segments, will readily distinguish it. I have never yet met with any form of L. oreopteris apart from the original, and 1 believe I may say the same of L. thelypteris. The stations for L. oreopteris are very limited in the south of England, though very plentiful in the north, as well as in Scotland.