categoryZFerns Ferns List 

SOFT SHIELD-FERN

Polystichum setiferum

Buckler-Fern Family [Dryopteridaceae]

Fronds:
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Spores:
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category
category8Ferns
status
statusZnative
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZhigh

8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
A short young plant with shuttlecock form.


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
The pinnate leaves have still to fully unfurl.


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
Stems covered in long pale-brown scales and finer hairs.


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
A frond amongst other fronds of the same fern.


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
A crozier, latent frond still yet to unfurl.


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
This new frond has a crozier atop which is still unfurling, as are the leaves.


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
Pinnules are distinctive: bright green.


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
Pinnules are distinctive: bright green, with 'rectangular' outline, slightly curving away outwards from the plant (B). They have outwards pointing teeth, with those on the side nearest the main stem curving towards the main stem (C). There is a large 'thumb' directed towards the end of the leaf. The space between the thumb and the leaf stem is parallel to the stem of the pinnule (A). The angle formed by the pinnule where it joins the stem (D) is >90° (not <90°). [Only features A and D are mentioned in the books as part of the ID, your Author has made up B and C; they might or might not have a bearing on ID].


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
A crozier (fiddleneck) unfurls revealing curled-up leaves which are also rolled up and they too need to un-roll and straighten-out.


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
Main stems (stipes) covered in broad but longer pale-brown scales.


8th April 2017, Blackbrook, Carr Mill Dam, St. Helens. Photo: © RWD
Amongst the pale-brown scales there are also long white hairs (but h are shorter than the scales)


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

Hybridizes 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. The sori (of which at present your Author has no photos) are circular.

To the touch Soft Shield-Fern feels soft and the teeth on the pinnules are soft and do not prick as do those on Hard Shield-Fern (Polystichum aculeatum). 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]