categoryZFerns Ferns List 

SOFT SHIELD FERN

Polystichum setiferum

Buckler-Fern Family [Dryopteridaceae]

Fronds:
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Spores:
spores8jul spores8july spores8aug

category
category8Ferns
status
statusZnative
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZhigh

26th April 2014, woods, Runcorn East, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Between 30 to 150cm tall occurring in tufts with rather pale-green fronds which often overwinter especially in sheltered places.


26th April 2014, woods, Runcorn East, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Fronds are bipinnate. Pinnae are numerous, linear lanceolate and about 10cm long with many oval-oblong pinnules.


26th April 2014, woods, Runcorn East, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
Pinnules have a short stalk at their base with several lobes all terminating in a sharp bristle-tipped teeth. Sori (absent here on un-ripe specimen) are circular. The largest thumb has 3-4 bristles and is parallel to the rachis and directed towards the end of the frond.


26th April 2014, woods, Runcorn East, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
A crozier, latent frond still yet to unfurl.


26th April 2014, woods, Runcorn East, Cheshire. Photo: © RWD
The scales on the are light brown


No relation to : Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) (a rush) or to Soft Brome (Bromus hordaeceus) (a grass).

Hybridises with :

  • Hard Shield Fern (Polystichum aculeatum) to produce Polystichum × bicknellii which has been recorded in up to a hundred hectads in England and Ireland.
  • Western Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) to produce Polystichum × lesliei but which occurs in just one hectad in Cornwall!
  • Holly Fern (Polystichum lonchitis) to produce Polystichum × lonchitiforme which occurs in only 2 hectads in Eire.

Similar to : Hard Fern (Polystichum aculeatum) but the pinnules of Soft Shield Fern are blunter and the bristles softer.

To the touch Soft Shield Fern feels soft, rather than hard. It quite often remains green throughout the year, but especially in sheltered places. Far less prevalent in Scotland than England, Wales and Ireland. Prefers the west of the UK (or East of Ireland) but also has a large following in Lincolnshire and the counties near Hampshire. Avoids Norfolk, East Midlands and much of Yorkshire.


  Polystichum setiferum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Dryopteridaceae  

Distribution
 family8Buckler-Fern family8Dryopteridaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Polystichum
Polystichum
(Shield-Ferns)

SOFT SHIELD FERN

Polystichum setiferum

Buckler-Fern Family [Dryopteridaceae]