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I was identifying plants for a client and we were walking along a trail in a rocky tree covered ravine. When we first spotted ebony spleenwort I thought they were stunted christmas ferns. Upon closer inspection we noticed the uneven fronds. The sterile and fertile fronds grow to different lengths. Sterile fronds grow 2-6 inches in length, while the fertile fronds (the ones that have spores) can grow 1 to 2 feet long, giving the plant a unique, but uneven look. 

Ebony spleenwort is an interesting evergreen fern. This little fern grows in moist but well-drained locations. It can tolerate more sun than most ferns. The leaves are dark green, and the stems are purplish brown. The fertile fronds are semi evergreen; the sterile fronds are evergreen. The fronds grow from the center out forming an uneven rosette that is very attractive. It would be a great fern to use in a rocky area that is in a semi-shade or dappled sun setting. A very good plant for rock gardens or along a wooded path.

Good companion plants are wild columbine, sedges, false solomon's seal, early meadow rue, violets, and woodland stonecrop. All plants good for a garden with good drainage and dappled shade or that is semi-shaded.

Asplenium platyneuron - Ebony spleenwort

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  • -A unique evergreen fern

    -Ebony Spleenwort is a clumping fern

    -Has a reddish brown stem

    -Height: 12 to 15 inches

    -Zone: 4 to 8

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