The dramatic foliage of this evergreen fern will attract the eye and beg for a closer look to see the unique nest formed in the center of the plant. The glossy, apple-green fronds are strap-shaped, have a brown to black midrib, and are 4-5′ long in the wild, but up to 2′ in containers. They grow in a vase-shaped rosette with a crown in the center that collects dead fronds and other detritus to create a bird’s nest that gives rise to its common name. In its tropical native habitat, this fern is an epiphyte, living on tree branches, fallen trunks, mossy surfaces, or soils. Few places in continental US provide a suitable environment for growing the ferns outdoors but the plants make good houseplants and are especially suitable for terrariums that meet their demand for high humidity. If you want to surprise your friends with an unusual snack, sauté 1″ long pieces of fern shoots with garlic and chili pepper as the Taiwanese do!

Type: Tropical evergreen epiphytic fern

Height: 3-5′

Bloom Color/Time: NoneS

Light: Part to full shade/bright light; avoid direct sunlight

Soil: Humusy, gritty, , consistently moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 11-12 with high humidity

Photo Credit: Marija Gajić Wikimedia Commons

By Karen