Whats that Fern?

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55 thoughts on “Whats that Fern?”

  1. Any idea what this is? saw lots of these tiny ferns on a mossy bank in our local woods.

    Wasn’t sure if they’re just young ferns but they all seemed to be about this size, with much bigger ferns nearby so wondered if they stay this sort of size?

  2. What we really need are pictures showing a close up of the front and back of the frond.
    But most likely they are young Male Ferns, (Dryopteris filix-mas) and if so, they get to be about 3 feet tall

  3. Got some more photo’s today, not the easiest thing to get a close up of but hopefully these are good enough.

    They don’t seem to have grown at all.


  4. These are what we call “sporelings” of the common Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas). They do not have any sori on the back of the frond because they are immature. They will get bigger.

    1. Cool, Thanks for the response. I’ve been watching them and they’re still tiny, should be interesting to see them grow!

      Thanks again.

  5. This is a fern grown from a spore. According to my notes it should be 994, Onoclea sensibilis, but it doesn’t look as expected. (It doesn’t look like any of the other ferns that I have grown through the spore exchange.) Thanks in advance for any help.

  6. This looks like a Pellaea species. Sporelings can look very different from adults but when it it matures it should be identifiable to species.

  7. What Tim means by “adult” is when the plant starts to produce spores.
    The spores can be produced from anywhere but usually they can be found on the underside of the frond(leaf) in something called a sorus (plural sori).
    It is the look of the sori that gives the most clues as to the species of the plant.
    If you can, you should try to get a photograph of the sori

  8. Hello,

    This fern was growing on a colliery spoil heap near Pontypridd. I wonder if it might possibly be Lanceolate Spleenwort, or if it is just an immature specimen of one of the more common species?

    Many thanks

  9. The big one on the left looks like the common male fern, Dryopteris filix-mas. I am not sure what the sporelings on the right are, possibly the same

  10. I haven’t seen this fern in real life and I can’t find any reliable information online. A challenging one for the pro’s.

  11. Several families of ferns include species that have young fronds covered in mucilage such as Blechnaceae, Plagiogyriaceae and Thelypteridaceae. They are mostly found in wet, tropical areas. I am not sure what the function of the mucilage is, maybe protection from desication or from herbivores. The thin white aerophores or pneumatophores are clearly visible poking through the mucilage. These enable gas exchange in the young frond.

  12. Anyone know what Fern is this?

    Found half light / shade and half dry / damp, clinging to the corner of a wall.

    Much appreciated


  13. It is Asplenium scolopendrium, the heart’s tongue fern. This fern is capable of many forms and this is quite a common variant, being forked.
    Try googling it

    1. I have grown the fern below for a number of years have tried to id it and think it is a Davallia though now on seeing the spores I am not so sure

  14. We only got one picture – did you mean to attach 2?
    If so can you try again
    Also can you try to get as close a picture of the sori as possible (but in focus) and attach that

  15. What is the best ID books you would recommend to somebody wanting to get into the field (more for wild growing species in the UK than cultivated varieties)

  16. While recording in the village of Fulbeck, Lincolnshire I came across a fern I didn’t recognise, growing towards the top of a limestone wall, quite near a gutter. I took some photographs, though as it was quite high, it’s not easy to see the characters. I managed to take a leaf, which had a very tough texture.

    1. Dear Sarah
      It is Dryopteris filix-mas ‘Linearis Polydactyla’ a cultivar of Male Fern it is easily grown. I suspect there must be a plant of this in a near by garden.
      Take care Julian

  17. This is a difficult one
    It looks like a “variety” or “cultivar” or “monstrosity” but of what I am not sure
    I think it is likely to be a Dryopteris
    I will ask around but another (better) picture would help
    If you can detach a leaf and photograph or scan it, that would help

  18. I have had this fern for around 45 yrs.My late wife often divided the plane.I think it needs dividing again,and I have bought 2 large plastic pots to accommodate.Could you give me some advice re dividing and repotting,I.e. What compost etc etc.I would like to know its name/species.It is housed over winter in a non heated conservatory,and put outside in the summer (north east facing).
    Your help/advices greatly appreciated.
    Tim Dempsey

    1. It is really a house plant i think
      Nephrolepsis in the trade it would be cordifolia but would need a close up of the base of the fronds and would be good to have a picture of the the un shed spore bodies under the frond (sori)
      take care Julian

    2. Dear Tim
      I was on auto pilot and went for the identification
      I would split it now and I would pull it out of the pot lie it on its side and get to garden hand forks and put them back to back push them between the crowns as best you can and then pull them apart and together so you work it through the plant and you should end up with 2 pieces. and then do it again for quarters
      Then repot into a good multi-purpose compost leaving the crowns of the plant just at compost level, do not worry if you find what look like tubers this is normal
      Water in thoroughly after this just keep damp but not wet if it feals heavy it is wet enough. This is easily spotted if the fronds are lush green its fine if they go slightly blue green they need water
      also i would cut back the fronds by half to one third it will soon regrow
      take care Julian

  19. Please identify my fern.Have had for 45 years.My late wife used to divide,feel it needs doing again.Have bought 2 large black plastic pots.Tips and suggestions to repot appreciated.i.e. what compost,feed etc. Fern house in unheated conservatory over winter.Outside during summer,north east location.

  20. Could anyone please advise what type of fern this is?
    The picture was taken on a trip to China recently; and I would like to buy one or two of these in UK (if they are available here).

  21. I don’t think this is a fern. Note the central upright stem. It looks like a conifer-possibly Cunninghamia or something from the Yew family.

  22. I bought this in a gaden store in The Netherlands a year ago. It outgrew its pot and I potted it on. It flourished and we went away with our irrigatia system set up but were away for the hottes part of August and when we returned the palest of pale greel leaves were in many caes looking rusty .

    I thought it wasa Hares Foot Fern but I am no longer sure and I am lost for advice as to whether I should prune the rusty fronds to allow the new curled up fronds to come through. It hacually dropped two fronds only – I have a younger one nearby whic is just pale green!

    We love it! But what is it and what to do?


  23. It used to be called Phlebodium aureum, but it may have been renamed. It looks very healthy so I would carry on doing whatever you are doing. You will notice that the new rhizomes are scaly but the old ones loose their scales and have a blue colour. They can start to grow out of the pot. The old fronds will turn brown and they also do this if the plant suffers from periods of drought. You can cut these leaves off, if they annoy you.

  24. I’m trying to identify a plant in my Nottinghamshire garden. We only moved here in October, but it has stayed green over winter. There are two plants, one slightly larger than the other, and they are both quite flat. (compared to the upright shape of the deciduous ferns that grow nearby) The spread of the largest one is at least one and a half metres at its widest point.

    Close-ups to follow.

      1. Most of the leaves have nothing on the underside at all, but two of the very longest fronds have these brown spots (spori?) covering the wider part of the frond, but not all the way along.

        Many thanks for your help.

  25. It is Polystichum setiferum, the soft shield fern. This is a native of the UK. The leaves can fall flat in the winter but they are still useful to the plant, doing photosynthesis.
    This might be a cultivar or garden variety but it is quite close to the standard. I will ask our cultivar experts for their opinion

    1. That’s very helpful. Thank you!

      I had looked at pictures of the soft shield fern on the internet, but because the photos showed more upright-looking plants that didn’t seem to match with my flat ones, and being a bit of a garden novice, I wasn’t confident in making the identification.

  26. The first and last images show it is clearly a cultivar. There are literally hundreds of named Polystichum setiferum cultivars, although only a handful are commonly available. I’m no expert on them, but it looks to me like it belongs to the Multilobum group of cultivars. Equally, it could be a form (commonly available in nurseries) called ‘Herrenhausen’, although that’s supposed to belong to the Divisilobum group. Come on, you cultivar experts!

  27. Julian thinks it is Polystichum setiferum “Divisilobum” and Martin classes this plant as a minor cultivar and puts it in the Tripinnatum Group. However Julian feels that the fertile frond is too divided for a “Tripinnatum”.
    So there you have it, a measure of disagreement between our experts!

  28. Hi,

    I went on a field trip to Tenerife with my uni and took 3 ferns for a taxonomic collection, could you help with identification as I can’t find any keys for ferns from Tenerife? They were found in the laurel (cloud) forest. I’ve attached photos of them.

    Many thanks.

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