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Protocol Information

Native Plant Nursery
USDI NPS - Glacier National Park
West Glacier, Montana 59936
(406) 888-7835

Family Scientific Name: Dryopteridaceae
Family Common Name: Wood Fern family
Scientific Name: Athyrium filix-femina L. (Roth)
Common Name: Lady fern
Species Code: ATHFIL
Ecotype: Cedar/Devil's Club habitat, understory species, Glacier National Park, Flathead Co, MT.
General Distribution: A. filix-femina is a circumboreal species, common in moist forests, meadows, and swamps from lowland to mid-montane elevations.
Propagation Goal: Plants
Propagation Method: Seed
Product Type: Container (plug)
Stock Type: 3 L container
Time To Grow: 1 Years
Target Specifications: Stock Type: Container sporophyte
Height: 45 cm, 7 mature fronds
Caliper: n/a
Root System: Fully developed rhizomatous root mass in containers.
Propagule Collection: An indusium is present; collect fronds when indusium begins to lift and spore color is tan. Fronds ares collected in late August.
Propagule Processing: Fronds are placed in a room without air movement,spore surface down on butcher paper. Spores will appear as a fine dust on the paper after several days of drying. Collect spores from the surface of paper and surface sow in sterilized flats filled with sterile, finely milled sphagnum peat moss that has been moistened with distilled water.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Water spores with distilled water and seal flats with clear plastic wrap to seal in moisture and prevent fungal contamination. Place flats under 60 watt soft incandescent lights set at 12 hour per day illumination. Germination of spores will occur after 15 days. The thread like germ filaments can be seen with the aid of a microscope and will appear as a fine green threads on the surface of the medium. A constant temperature of 20 C to 25C should be maintained throughout the growth of the prothalli.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:

Greenhouse and outdoor nursery growing facility.
Sowing/Planting Technique: Surface sow spores evenly by hand using sterile gloves or other sterilized sowing implement. Spores require light for germination. Sowing flats immediately after sowing.
Establishment Phase: Establishment Phase: Spore germinate 10 to 15 days after sowing. The heart shaped prothalli continue to grow for 6 to 8 weeks. Examination of the prothalli under a microscope will reveal the presence of the reproductive structures; the antheridia (male) and archegonia (female), located along the margins and notch of the prothalli. At this stage, it is critical to maintain a thin film of water over the surface of the prothalli for fertilization to occur. It is critical to maintain sterile conditions during germination and establishment. Trays must be inspected for fungal contamination on a regular basis. If fungal contamination occurs, remove infected portions of the medium and treat trays with a highly diluted (1/4 recommended rate)fungicide drench. Treat with dilute fungicide only if prothalli are well developed. Reseal flats immediately and water only with distilled water.
Once sporophytes appear, clear plastic is removed from the trays and asceptic conditions are no longer necessary.
Length of Establishment Phase: 2 to 3 months
Active Growth Phase: Appearance of sporophytes occurred 3 months after spore germination. Individual plants are transplanted from flats to pots when they are 2 inches tall. After establishment in the greenhouse, they are moved to the outdoor shadehouse in late spring. Plants are fertilized bi-weekly with 20-20-20 liquid NPK. Plants are root tight 8 months after germination.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 8 months
Hardening Phase: Plants are fertilized with 10-20-20 liquid NPK at 200 ppm in early fall; pots are leached with water. Plants are watered before winterization.
Length of Hardening Phase: 4 weeks
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Total Time to Harvest: 1 year
Harvest Date: September
Storage Conditions: Overwinter in outdoor shadehouse under insulating foam and snow.
Length of Storage: 5 months
Outplanting performance on typical sites: Outplanting Site: Avalanche, Glacier National Park, MT.
Outplanting Date: Fall
Other Comments: Plants have been held successfully for two years in 800 m l(4.5" )and 3L (1 gallon) containers in the nursery. Root mass is extensive and rhizomatous, and quickly fills containers.
Nursery grown plants produced spore bearing fronds 2 years after germination.

Vegetative Propagation Method: Rhizome Divisions
Treatments: Rhizomes are split down the center axis with knife, cut into 20 cm lengths.
Rooting %: Sporophytes can be divided 1 year after establishment.

References: Flora of the Pacific Northwest, Hitchcock and Cronquist, Univ. of Washington Press, 7th printing, 1990.

Ferns to Know and Grow, Foster, F.G., Timber Press, 1984.

Glacier Park Native Plant Nursery Propagation Records, unpublished.

Wick, Dale; Evans, Jeff.; Hosokawa, Joy.; Luna, Tara. 2008. Propagation protocol for production of container Athyrium filix-femina L. (Roth) plants (3 L container); USDI NPS - Glacier National Park, West Glacier, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org (accessed 3 September 2015). Moscow (ID): University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Forest Research Nursery.

Protocol Information

John M. Englert
Natural Resources Conservation Service - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
Bldg. 509, BARC - East, E. Beaver Dam Road
Beltsville, Maryland 20705
(301) 504-8175
(301) 504-8741

Family Scientific Name: Aspleniaceae
Family Common Name: Spleenwort Family
Scientific Name: Athyrium filix-femina
Common Name: Lady fern
Species Code: ATHFIL
Ecotype: National Capital Parks-East, Washington, D.C., Oxon Run Parkway
General Distribution: Quebec and Ontario to Florida and Texas, west to South Dakota and Missouri. Found in moist woods, meadows and streambanks.
Propagation Goal: Plants
Propagation Method: Vegetative
Product Type: Container (plug)
Time To Grow: 18 Months
Target Specifications: Stock Type: 1 gallon container plants.
Height: 10-12 inches with a well-formed crown, multiple stems and fiddleheads.
Root System: root ball is fibrous and firm, but does not always fill out container completely.
Propagule Collection: National Capital Parks-East, Washington, D.C., Oxon Run Parkway by J. Kujawski, and M. Norman 7/28/97; spores and/or fertile fronds are collected into paper bags or envelopes.
Propagule Processing: Spore Processing: No processing of spores is required; if fertile fronds are collected, fronds should be allowed to sit in paper bags to allow ripe spores to drop off. Fronds can be shaken into bags or envelopes to dislodge spores.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:

Propagation Environment: Lab, greenhouse, outdoor shade house.
Establishment Phase: Sowing Date: Summer.
Sowing/Planting Technique: Spores are sprinkled by hand over Jiffy 7 peat pellets; pellets are placed into sealed clear plastic containers (such as hinged salad containers) and maintained in the lab at 72-77 F with a 16 hour light, 8 hour dark light cycle. This part of the process is also feasible in the greenhouse.

Establishment Phase: Once prothalli develop on the peat pellets, plugs are kept moist to allow for sporophyte production. Prothalli may require thinning if they become too crowded on pellets.

Length of Establishment Phase: 1 month
Active Growth Phase: Rapid Growth Phase: Once sexual reproduction on the prothalli occurs, small sporophytes begin to develop. These tiny ferns are transferred to flats with humidity domes containing loose peat pellet mix and maintained for approximately 2 months during which they develop many stems and roots. Moisture is maintained by handwatering and misting. Larger ferns are transplanted to trays containing Promix BX and for plants with several sets of true leaves, 1/4 strength 20-20-20 fertilizer is applied. These flats are moved from the lab to the greenhouse to begin hardening off plants. Again, this process could be done entirely in the greenhouse with attention to temperature and moisture.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 1 to 1-1/2 year
Hardening Phase: Hardening Phase: Young ferns in Promix trays are exposed to open air in the greenhouse by removal of humidity domes after they have reached approximately 1-2 inches in height. Misting will help prevent dehydration of plants as they acclimate. These ferns can be transplanted into quart size containers after they reach a height of 2-3 inches. Ferns in larger containers should be moved outside to a shade house from the greenhouse in summer.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Spore storage: Store cool and dry until spores are ready to use.
Harvest Date: Ferns are ready approximately 1 to 1-1/2 years after spore germination.
Storage Conditions: Container plants smaller than 1 gallon are stored in a cold house @ 40 F for the winter; containers are periodically watered to prevent dehydration. Gallon size containers are stored outside on weed barrier fabric, and covered with 2 layers of a microfoam insulating blanket. The blanket is secured over plants by threading a rope over the blanket between rebar anchors on either side of a group of containers.
Length of Storage: Storage Duration: December to mid-March.
Other Comments: Vegetation Propagation Method: Spores.
References: Kujawski, J. 1997 Annual Report to the National Park Service for National Capital Parks-East Oxon Run Parkway. USDA NRCS National Plant Materials Center, Beltsville, MD.

Norman, C.M. 1998. Fern production quarterly reports. Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, MD.

Manual of Vascular Plants, Gleason and Cronquist, D. Van Nostrand Co., 1963.

Davis, Kathy M.; Kujawski, Jennifer L. 2001. Propagation protocol for vegetative production of container Athyrium filix-femina plants; Natural Resources Conservation Service - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center, Beltsville, Maryland. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://www.nativeplantnetwork.org (accessed 3 September 2015). Moscow (ID): University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Forest Research Nursery.