Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Cottage-style landscaping for Chesapeake VA
August 02, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plant staff, I recently moved into a cottage style home that has a poured concrete/paver patio. I am trying to come up with ideas for plantings that would 1. give me a bit of privacy,...
view the full question and answer

Native container plants from Hillsdale NJ
March 22, 2013 - Looking for suggestions for the easiest natives to grow in containers.
view the full question and answer

Erosion control for a North Carolina creek side
February 29, 2012 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants! I noticed a question on your website recommending NC native grasses and plants to help prevent erosion on a sloping backyard, including the use of an erosion blanket. The pl...
view the full question and answer

Identification of small purplish/pink flower with ferny leaves
March 13, 2011 - There is a totally adorable tiny flower blooming right now in my lease pasture near the Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, TX. It has a rosette of 2"-3" ferny leaves circling a very tiny (1/4") purp...
view the full question and answer

Ferns that smell like cucumber
September 27, 2008 - Are there ferns that smell like cucumber?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.