Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Asplenium platyneuron (Ebony spleenwort)
Cressler, Alan

Asplenium platyneuron

Asplenium platyneuron (L.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.

Ebony Spleenwort

Aspleniaceae (Spleenwort Family)


USDA Symbol: aspl

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

16 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

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.

Bloom Information

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


USA: AL , AR , AZ , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
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 it's 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


Propagation Material: Root Division
Description: Root division while dormant or spores
Maintenance: Water occasionally to maximize its cover and to keep it green through hot, dry summers.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Pineywoods Native Plant Center - Nacogdoches, TX
Stengl Biological Research Station - Smithville, TX
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 1231 - Guide To the Ferns of Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario (1999) Owen Sound Field Naturalists
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Asplenium platyneuron in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Asplenium platyneuron in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Asplenium platyneuron


Record Modified: 2018-05-18
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back