Cheilanthes feei is a xerophytic fern that grows exclusively on dry, exposed calcareous rocks and bluffs. This is an unusual habitat for a fern. Ferns typically inhabit moist environments. They lack the evolutionary adaptations possessed by xerophytic species. C. feei exhibits a few characteristics of xerophytic plants (i.e. apogamy, protective trichomes). However, it is unclear how the fern survives the restrictive conditions in its ecological niche. To determine which factors play a role in the fern's survival, we tested the effects of temperature, light intensity, and light quality on spore germination. Results suggest that the optimum conditions for C. feei spore germination are substantially different than the environmental conditions that characterize the fern's habitat.

Key words: Cheilanthes feei, germination, spore