Ebony Spleenwort



Asplenium platyneuron
new fronds with croziers, May 2015


The day after my last post, I went to Hoyles Mill Conservation Park (in the Little Seneca Creek watershed, near Boyds), hoping to find some evergreen ferns. There was a nice stand of Christmas fern along a bank:


Looking closer I saw a second species: ebony spleenwort.  It’s the smaller, lighter-colored fronds on the left in this picture:


At twelve to twenty inches tall, ebony spleenwort is one of the larger members of its genus.  It’s wide-ranging, from Quebec south and west as far as Arizona, and can be found in a variety of habitats.  Look for it on embankments, rock outcroppings that have a little soil, even old stone fences.  It’s listed as special concern in Maine and exploitably vulnerable in New York.



a specimen near C&O Canal lock 8, August 2015




The name “asplenium” is from the Latin, meaning “without spleen”.  The specific epithet “platyneuron” can be translated as “flat-nerved”.


underside of a pinna on a fertile frond, showing indusia and sporangia



Several other evergreen ferns can be found in the Maryland Piedmont; I’ll be posting about them in the coming weeks.

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