Plant Guide > Ferns > Parsley Fern

Parsley Fern



Pteris crispa
Cryptogramma crispa
Osmunda crispa

The Parsley Fern is an elegant little fern that might at first sight be mistaken for a tuft of parsley: it is as bright and green as that herb in the early summer. The fronds average about six inches in height, and are of two kinds. The barren fronds have broad, flat, and leaflike segments, and are two or three times pinnate.

The fertile fronds are known by their oblong or linear segments. They are nearly triangular, and the indusium is covered by the reflexed end of the frond. The veins are alternate, often forked, and each branch ending in a cluster, having no indusium, but concealed by the reflexed edge of the leaflet.

The stem is slender and very brittle. The duration of this most beautiful little fern is very short; it does not reach maturity until June, and becomes disfigured by the first morning frosts of autumn.

It is confined exclusively to Europe, and in Great Britain is rather a local than a rare fern. It is unknown in the south and middle of England, and appears only in the north-west and north, also in Scotland and Ireland. Its favourite place of growth is among rugged masses of stones and broken rocks which lie at the base or slopes of mountains in the north of England, and in Wales. On the rocks of Snowdon it may be seen covering the otherwise bare surface, and growing luxuriantly in the clefts and ledges of the slate and trap masses which there abound.

In Scotland it is abundant; and it is to be found in Ireland, though more sparingly. In cultivation, this charming little fern succeeds well. Nothing can be better adapted by natural habit to the rockwork and masses of dark granite or basaltic rock, on which it should be placed in the fernery. In a closed case it also does well, if protected from the direct heat of the sun, and supplied with fragments of stone or mortar, or bits of slate. A peaty-bog earth is the best soil for it; and, as in the case of all other its natural circumstances should be as much as possible regarded in its artificial treatment.