Ferns of Southern California

Interested in the ferns of Southern California? Learn more about the diverse climates and ferns of Southern California…

The southernmost region of California has a very diverse climate. The low hills have sunny recesses that are never touched by frost. While the high 12,000 feet mountain peaks are covered with snow till the end of summer. There are clear waters that begin on the western slopes of the mountains and meander through the steep mountains and wooded canyons, that have profuse number of fertile valleys and waterfalls. On the side there are sparse streams that run through the barren hills and barely touch the boundary of the dry desert which lies 70 feet below sea level at most of its parts.

Mainly because of the different conditions of the cold, heat, dryness, and moisture, it is evident that the flora and fauna are different and unique. From the pine tree, cactus, oak tree, palm tree and the agaves; you can see them grouped together in a natural order. Interestingly enough they require different climatic conditions for growth, and this has left a large number of Southern California ferns growing profusely in the region. The ferns grow in a variety of places and conditions. From the canyons cut up into the mountains to the numerous ravines and half shaded riverbanks you can find the Southern California ferns thriving in different locations. The general type of sunny fern may range from pteris aquilina, the common break or the var lanuginosa.

Drier Southern California Ferns

However, high up in the mountains one does not have the large and luxurious foliage the fern is known for in the north climate. The Southern California ferns are found in scattered growth in the poorer soil and dry climatic areas. The tufts of the common Bird Rock-brake known as the pellaea ornitho-pus grows with most of its roots sheltered by the heath shaped chimizo bushes, or it grows under a rock. However, the stiff fronds of the plant thrust out to reach towards sunshine.

The young Southern California fern is very luscious and green with soft foliage. However as the graceful plant grows up it becomes a dull olive color as it is scorched by the sun. It also becomes very stiff in the dry weather and is very different to the common and supple fern which is preferred for landscaping in the household and commercial districts.

In the hills you can find a few areas where the red type of fern known as the pellaea wrightiana grows profusely. Only upon close examination does one figure out that it is not the Bird Rock-brake. The botanical characters of both these ferns are extremely similar. However, the pellaea wrightiana has a very elegant appearance when you compare it to the common bird rock brake. Mostly found leaning on top of the large and sunken boulders, it ends up looking like a small bunch of pine twigs.

Cultivation Requirements

In order for these ferns to have the best foliage, they are required to be cultivated in shade. This gives them very graceful foliage and they become bright in color as is resplendent in their native homeland. One of the more handsome ferns in the same genus is the pellsea an-dromedsefolia.

You can find it in partially shaded areas that have a good degree of moisture. It also requires shade to grow but it is quite hardy and grows under any sort of condition. It thrives well in the house, in the yard, in full sunshine or even in the hedge amongst the smaller plants. There are long fronds that branch out into curved fronds in the sun, but they group in the shade. The ovate pinnules are small and bright green with a thick texture. The green may go into a bright purple shade sometimes.

The same place can also have profuse populations of the California polypod, or polypodium californicum. It has a single frond that is deeply pinnatifide and has illuminations on the back as bright golden fruit dots spread out in rows. This is a plant that thrives in winter and shoots up rapidly. However, when moisture starts falling in the summer it starts to wilt. Excellent for cultivation in the house, it can grow in different places but it likes a little sunshine for it to thrive best in the winter.

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