This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
A. filix fcemina. For many years this truly elegant British Fern was referred to the genus Aspidium; but as a nearer approach to perfection in generic arrangement, it was thought proper to remove it to that of Asplenium, in consequence of the length of the sori or clusters of reproductive organs. And now it is considered, and I think very justly, to correspond better in generic character with Athyrium, which, however, is decidedly identical with Allantodia; at least, on comparing the exotic species of that genus with the present plant, I can discover no difference whatever. There are several beautiful forms of Athyrium filix fcemina, but the only British Fern that it is in any way likely to be confounded with is Lastraea Oreopteris, as I have more than once found them growing in company; but in the latter the pinnae are pinnatilid, whereas in Athyrium filix fcemina the pinnules are distinct on the partial rachis and deeply cut on their margins. Besides the present subject, there are several more recorded species of British Athyriums; but as I am not yet certain that they have any claim to rank as such, I shall pass them by for the present, and take the different forms of A. filix fcemina, which are easily cultivated, especially if planted in light sandy loam with a small portion of peat, and in a well-sheltered situation, though they are usually found in naturally moist shady places by the sides of streams.
The mountain and rocky forms are doubtless the effect of the situations they occupy.
A. filix fcemina, var. crispum. This splendid monstrosity was detected in Ireland, 1 believe, by Mr. Smith, gardener to A. Anderson, Esq., the Holme, Regent's Park. The fronds are for the most part much and irregularly divided, and the pinnules deeply laciniated and tufted; so much so that the whole plant, when well grown, has much the appearance of a bunch of curled parsley.
A. filix fcemina, var. bifidum. We are indebted, I believe, to W. Moore of the Glasnevin Botanic Garden, Dublin, for this noble form of A. filix fcemina; the pinnae are divided at the extremity, which will readily distinguish it from any other Fern.
A. filix fcemina, var. prĈmorsum. This singular form was detected by Dr. Dickie of Aberdeen, on Ben Muich Dhu, a mountain in Aberdeenshire, near the Highland residence of her Majesty. The pinnules have much the appearance of being bitten by an insect; and, in fact, the whole plant is stamped with the appearance of a very distinct form, as it appears to retain the same characters under cultivation which it possessed when I was favoured with it from Dr. Dickie two years ago. I possess a strange-looking Fern from rocks by the sea-side, in which the pinnules are much overlapped, and extremely obtuse, and the fronds inclining to a horizontal direction, whereas in the original form they are usually erect. The above characters have proved constant for three years in cultivation. 1 have seen several other forms, but less striking in their characters; consequently I am not disposed to record them at present.
Foot's Cray. R. Sim.