Microsorum

Synonyms: Polypodium
Family: Polypodiaceae

This fairly large genus of ferns comprises about 40 species, several being natives of Australia and New Zealand. They have creeping rhizomes, mostly covered with dark scales, and smooth, solid stems. The thinly textured fronds are variable, and may be upright to pendent and entire to divided. In frost-prone climates, grow these ferns in a warm greenhouse or conservatory.

Species

M. diversifolium, kangaroo fern, is distributed through much of south-eastern Australia, New Zealand and Norfolk Island. The variable fronds are often deeply lobed and may grow 40-50 cm (16-20 in) high. This fern has a creeping habit, growing well among rocks in damp conditions. It will also scramble up the trunks of tree ferns.

M. membrani­folium, pimple fern, is from the tropical rainforests of north-eastern Queensland. The largest of the Australian species, it has solid, mostly erect, pinnate fronds, about 1 m (3 ft) long when mature, with broad lobes and distinctive veining. When young, the fronds are pale green, becoming deeper in colour with age.

M. punctatum, from north-eastern Queensland and other tropical areas, has simple, erect, pale green fronds which taper to the base and are rounded at the tip. This tropical species needs plenty of heat in order to flourish.

M. scandens, fragrant fern, from eastern Australia and Norfolk Island, has fine, green stems and upright to pendent fronds, some being entire, others divided, with many lobes and rippled margins. This species is one which does well among rocks or on tree fern trunks, and it makes an effective climber.

Cultivation

Under glass, grow in pots of peaty, soilless potting compost, with good drainage. Water regularly. Propagate by division of the rhizome, retaining a couple of fronds and some of the root. Peg down firmly or anchor with a piece of sandstone to avoid movement. They can also be grown from spores, but this is a much slower process.

Climate

Zone 10.

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Micromyrtus      Millettia