Asplenium australasicum

Birds Nest Fern

Family: Aspleniaceae

A common and widespread clumping epiphytic fern typically found growing in trees and on rocks (lithophytic) in rainforest and wet sclerophyll forests.

It is found along the coast of NSW almost down the Victorian border, extending north along the coast into Queensland to Cape York. It extends into the tablelands and western slopes of NSW.

It is a clumping fern, very identifiable, with its long fronds coming from a central origin which is a condensed rhizome.

The fronds are generally sword-shaped (lanceolate) to 80 cm long and about 20 cm wide, mid to light green in colour with a strong midrib.

Being a fern, no flowers or fruits are produced.

Spores are produced in linear sori, to 6 cm long by 0.1 cm wide which are arranged in continuous parallel lines on the underside of the frond, along the secondary veins, from the midvein to about halfway to the edge of the frond.

In the garden

Very common plant in cultivation and has been for a long time.

Can be attached to trees and rocks in a garden and can also be grown in pots. Grow in dappled sun but keep out of hot western sun.

Give reliable moisture but can be self-contained if growing in a shady area with reliable rainfall.

Long-lived plant.

Can suffer from leaf burn symptoms if too dry or hot, or if drainage is not free enough.

Can be grown in a container inside. Likes some enrichment through organic compost or fertiliser addition.

Can get scale on the underside of its fronds.


Propagation is from plant division or by spores.

Other information

Can grow in fire-prone environments. Can regenerate from spores but probably does not like too hot or frequent fires.

Due to its popularity in gardens, plants can be found establishing in bushland where they do not naturally belong.

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”.
australasicum – Latin for “Australasia”, referring to the previously thought distribution of the species.

Not considered at risk in the wild.



By Dan Clarke