Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Asplenium platyneuron

Ebony spleenwort

Aspleniaceae (Spleenwort Family)

Asplenium platyneuron (Ebony spleenwort)
Cressler, Alan
Sterile and fertile fronds are entirely different in appearance and habit. Sterile fronds are only 2-6 in. long, have short, blunt, alternate pinnae, and are evergreen. Fertile fronds are 1-2 ft. long, erect-arching, and bear short, alternate pinnae below and longer, opposite pinnae above. Fronds occur in loose clusters, arising from the clumping rootstock. Colonizing roots are black and wiry.

The word, ebony, refers to the fact that the stalk turns a shining black with age.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Fern
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Size Notes: Normally 12 to 18 inches high
Leaf: Fertile leaves dark green. Infertile leaves paler.
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Not Applicable
Bloom Notes: Not a flowering plant. Reproduces by spores.


USA: AL , AZ , AR , CO , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: Ontario and ME to s. MN & s.e. CO, s. to FL & TX. North America east of the Rockies, Zones 5 to 9. Also southern Africa.
Native Habitat: Moist, shaded spaces between rocks; old fields; sandy pinelands; thickets; roadsides

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2) , Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Gravelly, slightly acid, well-drained soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Limestone-based. Grows well in acid or alkaline soils.
Conditions Comments: One of the most drought-tolerant ferns, this fern also takes more sun than many, provided its kept moist enough. Must have good drainage, and does not tolerate flooding. Will need extra water in dry areas to make a ground cover, and even then will only cover loosely.


Use Ornamental: Good for light, airy cover in drier areas than most ferns can handle.
Interesting Foliage: yes

Last Update: 2014-08-06