Walking Fern

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Walking Fern-Asplenium rhizophyllum Hardy Planting Zones- 4-9 Sun or Shade – Partial to Full Shade Mature Height - 6-12" Mature Width- 6-9" Bloom Season – n/a Gardener Status- Beginner
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Walking Fern – Asplenium rhizophyllum

Walking fern is so named due to the way in which it grows new plants. The fronds are somewhat heart-shaped at the base and taper to a slender end that contains a bud. Structures that produce dark brown spores on the underside of the leaf cause new plants to sprout when the end touches the ground. This is what creates the “walking effect.” The spores may appear to be scattered on the bottom of the leaves, but they are along the veins.

The leaves are smooth and green except at the base where they are a dark reddish brown and scaly. They do not look like a typical fern frond. They grow in clumps because of the walking effect, and they do not produce flowers. Walking fern can tolerate wet soil on an occasional basis. They prefer shady and humid areas where they are protected from the wind. They are relatively hardy and can tolerate a variety of soil types. They grow well in the eastern part of the US and as far west as Oklahoma and Kansas. It is not unusual for the ferns to be hidden under the snow in the winter waiting for the melt in the spring.

Walking fern is a lovely plant for wooded rock gardens. They prefer to be near streams and grow on moss-covered rocks and overhangs. They will also grow on sandstone and sometimes on tree trunks. They are often planted for ground cover and because the leaves are evergreen they can be enjoyed all year. Fern enthusiasts will find the walking fern is a beautiful addition to a natural garden with plenty of moss and preferably a tree large enough for shade and protection from the wind.

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