Soft Shield–fern - Polystichum setiferum
Syn. - P. s. angulare, P. s. bulbosum
Family - Dryopteridaceae

Soft Shield-fern - Polystichum setiferum, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse CCASA3.0
Photo ©2004 Kurt Stüber
Click photo for a larger image

The Soft Shield–fern is a common large Evergreen or semi–evergreen fern native to the U.K, south western and central Europe, that will be found in shaded deciduous woodland, gardens, hedgerows, lane banks and sheltered stream sides.  Frequently planted as an ornamental plant for gardens, there are many cultivars available, cultivar "Divisilobum Iveryanum" has the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Bright green fronds are 30–120cm (12–47in) long, soft, bipinnate, single–pinnate on young plants, with the pinnae opposite on the stalk and 4–14cm (2–6in) long grow from stout rhizomes.  The fronds emerge from the basal rhizome in the spring as curled "Croziers", gradually unfurling over several days to form a shuttlecock like rosette of leaves, these can last for up to 15 months withering to a brown floppy strand which remains attached to the rosette over winter. The fruiting bodies or sori which produce light yellow spores are in two rows on either side of the midrib of each pinnule and are covered by a centrally–attached, umbrella–like membranous covering with fringed edges.

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