Asplenium flaccidum

Weeping Spleenwort

Family: Aspleniaceae

A very attractive fern, often found hanging in pendent clumps, growing on trees and rocks in rainforest. It grows along the entire NSW coastal stretch, and into the tablelands, extending into Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania as well as New Zealand.

It has compound-bipinnate fronds, to about 1 m long, with the fronds divided into pinnae with jagged segments (pinnatisect) which somewhat resemble the leaves of some grevilleas (eg: Grevillea ‘Ivanhoe’). The ends of the segments have points and the overall texture is thick and leathery.

Being a fern, no flowers or fruits are produced.

Spores are produced in solitary sori, to 7 mm long, on the edge of frond segments (on the boundary of the upper and lower sides).

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 be able to be established on rock walls and similar substrates if plants can be sourced.
May suffer from scale if grown indoors. It would make a nice addition to a green house or fernery.
Propagation is from plant division or by spores


Other information

The entire species is currently recognised in NSW as A. flaccidum subsp. flaccidum.

Likely grows in areas where fire is not a problem. But can probably regenerate after light fires.

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”.

flaccidum – Latin for “flaccid” referring to the weeping/pendent foliage.

Not considered at risk in the wild.


By Dan Clarke