En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Smarty Plants on thousand year old interrupted fern

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - April 03, 2005

From: Roanoke, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Ferns
Title: Smarty Plants on thousand year old interrupted fern
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We recently built a new home in the mountains of western Virginia. I am told by the local Botanist that there is a patch of "thousand year old interrupted fern" that runs through, among other places, my yard. Is it possible for fern to actually be 1000 years old? I was under the impression that this fern is perennial but it reseeds itself by spores. Of course, I am not a botanist so this is why I am writing to you. I understand that this is a very common fern and am nervous that this guy is going to try to stop me from otherwise keeping my property attractive and snake free for my family to enjoy. I don't want to destroy the environment and I surely don't want to kill any 1000 year old plants. What are your thoughts?

ANSWER:

Interrupted fern (Osmunda claytonia) is a large, common widespread fern. Its distribution includes all the states east of the Mississippi River except Louisiana and Florida. it is very doubtful if any of your individual ferns is a thousand years old. However, the colony of ferns on your property may have been in existence for 1000 years or more. Since the ferns themselves are not endangered and you have no intention of destroying the entire colony, it seems reasonable for you to be able to trim and control them to make them attractive and your surroundings safe for you and your family. For purposes of neighborhood harmony, however, you might want to learn if your neighbors are concerned about your cutting down the ferns and to reassure them that you have no intention of destroying this ancient colony of ferns.
 

More Ferns Questions

Southern Woodferns in TX
May 06, 2010 - I have recently bought some 3 gallon southern woodferns, and have planted them in the shade in a low spot with clay soil. It seems to be a good location for the ferns, but a week or two after transpla...
view the full question and answer

transplanting Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris)
October 25, 2011 - Behind our house is a huge grotto with a spring flowing through it that runs into a creek. Because of the constant flow of water, there are many of the Maidenhair Ferns (Adiantum capillus-veneris). I ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to grow in shady area near a pecan tree in Maryland
March 26, 2013 - I live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I have planted only natives in my front lawn. My backyard, which sports a pecan tree, fir, fig tree, and others I can't identify is dirt, just dirt. I have...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification from Virginia
May 03, 2012 - We found lots of asparagus like stalks growing randomly in our field here in central Virginia. But, instead of an asparagus head it has a tight cluster of leaves that are small and roundish. Any idea...
view the full question and answer

Are philodendrons, variegated ginger, sword ferns and palms toxic to horses?
February 24, 2009 - Are philodendrons, variegated ginger, sword ferns and palms toxic to horses?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center