Monday, January 16, 2012

Blechnum serrulatum – Swamp Fern

Blechnum serrulatum
Blechnum serrulatum, the swamp fern, growing with the southern shield fern (Thelypteris kunthii), bog-hemp (Boehmeria cylindrica), and Boston fern (Nephrolepis species).

Swamp fern, Blechnum serrulatum, is a mid-sized, evergreen fern of the tropics and subtropics of the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America, as well as the the Old World tropics of Malaysia, New Caledonia, and Australia. The fronds arise from long, creeping rhizomes and it usually forms extensive colonies. It occurs in the United States only in Florida, where it is a common fern of swamps, marshes, flatwoods, wet prairies, and hammocks. Although it is a non-climbing terrestrial fern in Florida, it sometimes grows as a climbing or subepiphytic fern in tropical rain forests. The species epithet, serrulatum, means with small teeth and refers to the minutely toothed edges of the pinnae (leaf segments). In the image above, it is growing on the moist bank of a seasonal creek in the Delray Oaks Natural Area in Palm Beach County.

Richard Weaver described it as an "attractive, bold-textured plant" and it is suitable as a large groundcover or ornamental plant for a large site with moist or wet soil. Plants are especially attractive when producing new fronds, these starting out pink to burgundy pink, then changing to bright green, and finally maturing to dark green.

Image and text © 2012 Rufino Osorio

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