One of my buys at the Nashville Lawn and Garden show was a Holly Fern, aka Cyrtomium falcatum 'Rochfordianum'. I finally got around to planting it recently.
I have grown it before and I will tell you up front it is not hardy to my area (Zone 6-7). That hasn't stopped me from buying it though. This is a cool fern as ferns go. It really does resemble a holly tree. The leaflets are sharp, shiny and somewhat stiff. It grows fairly large and fits right into any woodland setting.
One of the really cool things I find about it, despite the fact it is different, are the spores. Ferns do not produce seeds. They perpetuate themselves by producing spores.
Spores are the reproductive structures of ferns. Ferns are unique in that they do not flower, nor produce seeds. They are neither angiosperms (all flowering plants like peonies), nor are they gymnosperms (plants that produce seeds without a flower-naked seeds, like conifers). My instructor drilled these two type of plants into my head last fall, now they give us another type??
Can you see the spores on the bottom of the leaf? I know the picture is not the best but if you enlarge it, you may be able to see it better.
These spores are an added benefit of growing the fern because they are so big and noticeable, even though they are on the back side of the leaves. I hope my one little holly fern will spread itself around. Holly ferns are not hardy in Zone 6, so I don't expect mine will come back, but seedlings would be nice. Wait, I guess I can't call them seedling since they don't come from seeds? Maybe sporings:)
Give the Holly fern a sheltered shade to part shade position amongst heuchera, hostas or other shade plants, and stand back and watch the show. This fern shines all season but don't expect it to come back the next year unless you are real lucky!
in the garden....