Capitol Corridor
University of California
Capitol Corridor

Valentine Fern

I was shopping at a big box store today, as I needed to replace my watering can and get some cactus mix. These items were nearby a large group of house plants. Normally I can glance over the indoor plants and keep walking but today I stopped and admired a number of ferns. Upon closer inspection, I realized one of the ferns, a Bird's Nest Fern, Asplenium nidus,  had developed one leaf blade or frond, which terminated in an unusual leaf shape. At first I thought the one unusual frond was folded over but no the frond had developed into a different shape than the others on the same plant. The shape brought to mind the leaf shape of a Fiddle Leaf Fig or a heart, it is almost Valentines Day after all.  
 
I do not have many indoor plants  as I have many plants outside that keep me very busy.  I don't know how common this leaf abnormality might be? I pulled out the other Bird's Nest Ferns from the shelves and all those fronds conformed to the expected long single wavy blade. Of course I purchased this specimen.
 
As I researched Bird's Nest Fern, I found it to be a very popular houseplant which is supposed to be easy to grow. Its origins are tropical so I'll need to routinely mist it to keep up the humidity it favors. I placed it in a north facing window so it will receive bright indirect lighting. In nature it can either grow terrestrially on the ground or epiphytically in trees or rocks. In  Hawaii it can be found growing up to 2,500 feet. 
 
Normally the fronds are undivided and sword-shaped and can reach 2-4 feet long by 3-8 inches wide. The fronds are light green with a brown or black mid-rib, although a number of mine were still green, maybe as they mature they will darken. Spores grow along the leaf veins. There are cultivars with curly or ruffled margins. 
 
When I got home I started looking on-line, searching with various ways of describing the unusual leaf shape to no avail. The Western Sunset Garden guide was no help either. 
 
I'll keep looking and watching to see what happens with new growth.

Normal frond (photos by Trishae Rose)
Normal frond (photos by Trishae Rose)

Abnormal fern frond
Abnormal fern frond

Posted on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 10:22 AM

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