Asplenium attenuatum

Simple Spleenwort

Family: Aspleniaceae

A clumping fern found in gullies and shady areas on creeklines in dry and wet sclerophyll forest and rainforest. It grows on rocks or on tree trunks. It grows along the coast of NSW, north from the lower Blue Mountains, into Qld.

It has linear simple fronds 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, dark to mid green.

Being a fern, no flowers or fruits are produced.

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

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).

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

Likely grows in areas where fire is not a problem.

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 functions.
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.

Not considered at risk in the wild.


By Dan Clarke