A member of the spleenwort family (Aspleniaceae) this evergreen fern is native to central and southern Europe, western Asia, northern Africa and eastern North America where it often grows in lime-rich, damp shady places with excellent drainage. The ancient Greek physician and pharmacologist, Pedanius Dioscorides (40-90 AD), who traveled with the armies of Emperor Nero, claimed that the fronds drunk with wine was an antidote to snakebites, and prescribed it as a treatment for for dysentery and diarrhea. We have no record of the Pompeians using the plant medicinally but since it appears in wall paintings from ancient Pompeian houses, we can assume that the plant was known to them. Photo Credit 4028mdk09 Wikipedia

Wall painting from the House of Adonis, Pompeii

Hart’s tongue fern is recognized by its simple, strap-shaped undivided fronds that grow in an arching clump about 12-18″ high. The bright green fronds are leathery, undivided, and may have wavy margins. The sori appear in rows on the underside of the fronds. The fronds are said to resemble the tongue of a male deer (a hart), leading to the common name. Photo Credit Stanley Jashemsky

Size: 12-18″ H x 12-18″ W

Light: Semi shade to full shade

Soil: Fertile, moist, well drained, lime rich

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9

By Karen