This perennial evergreen fern is a member of the spleenwort family, Aspleniaceae, that also includes maiden-hair fern, bird’s nest fern, and eared lady fern. It 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. Growing from a rhizome, the plant forms an arching clump of bright green, strap-shaped, fonds 12-18″ tall and across. Each frond is leathery and undivided, may have wavy margins, and has distinct rows of brown sori on the underside. In ancient times it was believed to be a cure for dysentery and diarrhea, and an antidote to snakebite. Since then it has been used in treatments for a variety of ailments including piles, burns, scalds, as well as liver and spleen problems. Hart’s tongue fern is an excellent choice for an edger or ground cover and can be used in shade, woodland and container gardens. The genus name, Asplenium, comes from the Greek  ἀ- (a-) meaning without, and σπλήν (splḗn) meaning spleen, and probably refers to the belief that some of the species could heal problems of the spleen. The specific epithet, scolopendrium, is the Latin word for centipede, and refers to the appearance of the sori on the underside of the fronds. The common name, hart’s tongue fern, comes from the resemblance of the fronds to the tongue of a male deer (a hart).

Type: Evergreen perennial fern

Bloom: None

Size: 12-18″ H x 12-18″ W

Light: Partial shade to full shade

Soil: Fertile, moist, very well drained, lime-rich

Hardiness: Zones 5-9

Care: Mulch to maintain moist conditions; remove dead fronds as they appear

Pests and Diseases: Root rot in overly wet soil

Propagation: Spores in mid to late summer; division in spring

Companion Plants: Hosta, European wild ginger, hellebore, and , ferns with finely divided foliage such as painted lady fern

Outstanding Selections:

Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Capitatum’ (fronds with undulating edges and heavily crested tips)

Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Crispum’ (fronds deeply indented with greatly undulating or frilled edges and simple pointed tip)

Asplenium scolopendrium ‘Crispum cristatum’ (frond with very frilled edges and crested tips)

Photo Credit: 4028mdk09 Wikipedia

By Karen