Fern Articles

Tony and the Taiwanese Ferns

(An article largely edited from Tony Avent’s journal and photos on his website
http://www.plantdelights.com then click on Taiwan Log)
In August of 2008, intrepid plant explorer and plantsman, Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery in N Carolina, turned his focus on Taiwan and, more specifically, ferns as one of his main thrusts of the expedition. He was accompanied on this trip by Mark Weathington, Assistant Director of the J.C. Raulston Arboretum.

All pics by Tony Avent unless stated otherwise.

What follows is a fern-partial, reformatted and abridged version. It has been synthesized by a new member of the Hardy Fern Foundation, Grahame Ware. Grahame is the co-author of  ‘Heucheras and Heuchellas’ (with Dan Heims) and has also had recent features in the RHS Plantsman. Tony and Mark may well have benefitted from information on our HFF website. Here is a link to a pdf of the Taiwan fern family index:  http://tai2.ntu.edu.tw/fot/V1/V1index.htm


Native or endemic fern species account for about 9-10 percent of Taiwan’s total. From 1895 until 1945- during the Japanese occupation- Japanese botanists catalogued 81% of the species.  American Quaker botanist, Charles De Vol, spent the 1960’s and 70’s working on the Flora of  Taiwan with his specialty in the Pteridophytes. The fern garden at the Endemic Species Research Institute has a fern garden with more than 200 species.

Ferns are frequent in the temperate zone but prolific in the tropical zones.  Robbin Craig Moran in his ‘Natural History of Ferns’ (Timber Press 2004) illustrates this phenomenon. He states on p. 218 that if you started in the northwest Pacific Asia in Kamchatka there would be 42 ferns species; and, as you head south there would be 140 in Hokkaido, 430 in Honshu, 560 in Taiwan, 960 in the Philippines and over 1200 in Borneo. Overall it is estimated (RHS Dictionary of Gardening) there are 10-12,000 species in 230-250 genera. Apparently hardiness is not the only barrier to bringing them into temperate gardens: harmonizing the mycorrhizal regime and providing an often difficult substrate are just as important in getting the marginally hardy yet showy subtropical species to be happy.                                               *****



Franz Bauer and John Smith- The Eyes and Hands of William Hooker: The Significance of Their Work in Genera Filicum

By Grahame Ware

Featured in the Summer 2010 edition of the Hardy Fern Foundation Quarterly