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Ebony Spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron)

Ebony Spleenwort Ebony Spleenwort

Ebony Spleenwort and Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrosticoides) are the two most common ferns found along Arboretum hiking trails. The smaller Ebony Spleenwort is less conspicuous than Christmas Fern. Its upright, fertile fronds (leaves) bearing clusters of spores (sori) can be up to 2 ft in height, but more commonly are less than 1 ft long. The sterile fronds are much shorter (only 2-6 in. long). The leaf petiole and rachis (the stalk to which the leaflets are attached) are dark purplish brown to black, which gives rise to the ebony portion of its common name. Spleenwort purportedly refers to the medicinal properties of this and other Asplenium species. The bases of the fertile frond leaflets (pinnae) are ear-shaped and overlap the rachis. The margins of the pinnae are serrate (saw-toothed) to crenate (somewhat rounded). The distribution of Ebony Spleenwort is unusual in its being found throughout the eastern US, in New Mexico, Arizona, and the West Indies, and also in tropical and subtropical Africa.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
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