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BLECHNACEAE

DEER FERN FAMILY

Alan R. Smith and Thomas Lemieux

Plants in soil; rhizome short-creeping to erect, scaly
Leaves all alike or of 2 kinds, fertile and sterile; petiole in transverse section with vascular strands in a circle; blade deeply pinnately lobed to 1-pinnate with deeply pinnately lobed 1° leaflets, hairs generally 0; veins free or netted
Sporangia in linear to oblong sori along veins parallel to the nearest midrib; indusium shaped ± like sorus, opening towards nearest midrib; stalk cells in 2–3 rows; spores elliptic, scar linear
Genera in family: ± 9 genera, ± 250 species: worldwide, especially tropical. New growth often reddish; several species cultivated.

BLECHNUM

Rhizome suberect; scales brown
Leaves all ± alike or of 2 kinds, fertile > sterile, with much narrower 1° leaflets, deeply pinnately lobed to 1-pinnate with unlobed 1° leaflets; lower 1° leaflets reduced or not; veins of sterile leaves free
Sporangia: sori linear, 2 per 1° leaflet, 1 along each side of 1° leaflet midrib
Species in genus: > 200 species: worldwide, especially tropical, subtropical
Etymology: (Greek: ancient name for ferns)

Native

B. spicant (L.) Sm.

DEER FERN

Rhizome ascending to suberect
Leaf: petiole base blackish, with persistent brownish scales; sterile leaves forming rosette, ± arching, deeply pinnately lobed to 1-pinnate with unlobed 1° leaflets, generally < 1 m, 2–10 cm wide, 1° leaflets 5–8 mm wide, generally 20–80 pairs, entire to shallowly crenate, lower gradually reduced to semicircular lobes < 5 mm; fertile leaves appearing later than sterile, in center of rosette, ± erect, 1-pinnate, > sterile, 1° leaflets ± 2 mm wide, unlobed
Chromosomes: 2n=68
Ecology: Shaded, moist areas
Elevation: ± 0–1500 m.
Bioregional distribution: North Coast, Outer North Coast Ranges, n High Sierra Nevada, San Francisco Bay Area
Distribution outside California: to Alaska, Europe
Locally common; cultivated
Horticultural information: SHD: 4, 5 &IRR; 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 24.

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