Friday, April 19, 2013

Nephrolepis cordifolia or Fishbone fern an Australian native plant

Botanical name: Nephrolepis cordifolia
Common names: Fishbone fern, herringbone fern, narrow sword fern, tuber ladder fern and erect sword fern
Native to: Australia and some parts of Asia

In my family Nephrolepis cordifolia is a divisive plant. This is because my father planted them in almost every family house garden he owned over the years. It was almost like that was the only plant he could be bothered with. I think because I've seen so many of them over the years they look boring to me but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I know lots of people like these plants.

Nephrolepis cordifolia has been introduced to several countries including the USA, New Zealand, French Polynesia and Bermuda. In New Zealand and Florida USA it has been declared a noxious weed due to its invasive tendencies in those areas. I suppose you are always going to run that risk if you introduce tuberous plants to areas where they do not originate from.

Fishbone ferns are native to Australia, particularly Northern Australia. That being the case you wouldn't think they would grow down South in Melbourne but they do. They are often used to line driveways, encircle trees or to line the base of a house. They are very tough drought tolerant plants. I would describe them as a low maintenance plant because of their low water needs and the fact they don't really need any pruning. The only pruning you might do on a Fishbone fern is to cut out any old dead fronds or to completely cut them down to start them off again. They can be frost tender but in places like Melbourne they are fine. They can grow to 1 metre high and spread 1 metre. They like well drained soil and full sun but will tolerate some shade. I would recommend this plant to anyone in Australia who needs a fairly low growing plant which basically needs no watering and no maintenance.

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