Asplenium attenuatum

Simple Spleenwort

Family: Aspleniaceae

A clumping fern found with fronds to about 40 cm long.

It is found on the central and north coast botanical subdivisions of NSW, north from Wollongong, extending into the Blue Mountains, and northwards in disjunct patches to Queensland. Here, it is found in disjunct patches up to Cairns.

It is found in gullies and shady areas on creeklines in dry and wet sclerophyll forest and rainforest. It grows on rocks (lithophytic) or tree trunks (epiphytic).

Asplenium spp. exhibit a wide range of frond appearances as well as plant habits. In this species, simple linear fronds are produced, to about 40 cm long by 5 cm wide, which narrow strongly at the apex with prominent midrib. The entire frond is intact, but can be lobed at the base, and with lobing along the margins (which can appear like pieces of frond have been chewed out or cut away), dark to mid green.

Being a fern, no flowers or fruits are produced. Rather, spores are produced.

Spores are produced in linear sori (spore-houses), to 15 mm long, on either side of midrib on the underside of the frond.

In the garden

Not much is known about its cultivation currently.

It could be grown in pots indoors and would lend to rainforest and moist shady gardens.

Can be grown as an epiphyte on trees and rocks.

Likely needs good drainage and mostly shade to thrive.

May suffer from scale if grown indoors.


Propagation is from plant division or by spores.

Other information

There are two varieties currently recognised in NSW:
– var. attenuatum – fronds have lobed in lower third (most of the know range).
– var. indivisum – fronds are entire (some plants in the Central Coast area of NSW and some Queensland plants).

It likely grows in areas where fire is not a problem. It is likely severely disadvantaged by fire.

Asplenium is a large genus of around 650 species, spread throughout much of the world. Australia has around 30 species occurring in all states and territories. NSW currently has 17 species.

Asplenium – from the Latin-Greek a– (without) and –splenio (σπλήνιο) meaning “spleen”. Asplenia is the medical condition for the absence of a spleen or a spleen that does not function correctly.
This genus is generally known as spleenworts as some species have sori which resemble the human spleen in appearance. This generated the belief in ancient times that the plants were then beneficial for the human spleen. The genus name means “no-spleen” or “no connection to the spleen”.

attenuatum – Latin for “attenuate”, referring to the tapering narrowing frond apices.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Asplenium attenuatum profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Asplenium~attenuatum

Wikipedia – Asplenium attenuatum profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asplenium_attenuatum


By Dan Clarke