Fern plants collected from near and far-off places have started showing signs of growth at Fern House, which was inaugurated a month ago at Botanical Garden, Sarangpur. Caretakers have installed bamboo sticks for giving support to these plants, which are increasing in their size, and to growing bine (a twinning stem of flexible shoot). The plants include thelypteris, pteris cretica and black mainden hair fern.
A total of 22 species of fern plants were planted in a specially built greenhouse spread in an area of 100×40 feet. For providing a cool atmosphere full with moisture, which is one of the essential requirements for the growth of these plants besides a certain height and shades of bine, around 11-hour-long showering of water through small foggers was made available inside the greenhouse. The showers work in several breaks, says Jetinder Singh, block officer at Botanical Garden.
Chhavi Ram, the gardener at Fern House, says, “For fulfilling the requirement of shades of bines, we have planted more than 55 plants of equisteum arvense locally known as horse tail on the walls, which will automatically produce the bines, which will cover the entire greenhouse from inside shortly. The previous leaves are drying out and new leaves are coming on these plants.”
The first-ever Fern House, created by the Department of Forest and Wildlife, Chandigarh, at Botanical Garden, Sarangpur, contains 22 species of fern plants to be found throughout Shivalik Hills. The fern house was inaugurated by UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore on the concluding day of Wildlife Week on October 9.
The Department of Forest and Wildlife procured the fern plants from places such as Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, and P N Mehra Botanical Gardens situated at Panjab University, Chandigarh. A few local species were collected from Nepli-Kansal forest area in Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary.
The species collected from Nepli-Kansal forest area and PN Mehra Botanical Gardens include common asparagus fern, black mainden hair fern, fan-leaved maiden hair, certomium caryotideum, thelypteris serra and pteris cretica.
The species collected from Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry include adiantum venustum, which is known as black Hansraj in India for its black stalks at the fronds, lephrolepis exaltate commonly known as swordfern, nephrolepis himalayense known as machofern, dryopte ris filix-mas known as in old literature as worm fern, due to its initial shape as a worm.
Amrik Singh Ahluwalia, a senior professor with Botany Department at PU, says, “Fern plants need special care. Cool atmosphere full with moisture, which reflects fog, is essential for these plants. The shades of bine, particularly when these plants are introduced in plain areas, is also required. Chandigarh forest department has collected a few species of fern plants from the botanical garden of PU. We have around 30 species of fern and fernallies plants at PN Mehra Botanical Gardens.”
Debendra Dalai, chief conservator of forest, says, “Fern house was constructed for the educational and ex-situ conservation purpose. Throughout the year, students of various schools, colleges and universities, and trainees from different forestry institutes visit Chandigarh Botanical garden for studying different species of plants.”
The process of constructing the Fern House was started in January 2017. “We had decided to procure some of the fern species from Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun, but the idea was abandoned when we were advised that fern species of high altitude cannot survive in the low- altitude areas like Chandigarh despite being provided man-made cool atmosphere,” says another forest officer.
Inside the green house, the fern plants were planted on six different platforms and plants of golden leather fern plant in 40 flowerpots hanging all over the greenhouse.