Asplenium flaccidum

Weeping Spleenwort

Family: Aspleniaceae

A very attractive fern, often found hanging in pendent clumps, to about 1 metre long.

It occurs in disjunct patches along along moist of the NSW coastal stretch, and into the tablelands (as far west as Katoomba-Lithgow area and Guyra-Glen Innes region and Tenterfield. It extends just into Queensland, occurring between the Gold Coast and Warwick. It occurs in north-eastern Victoria and long the coast and inland to about Melbourne and as far west as Apollo Bay. It is found over much of Tasmania and also very commonly in New Zealand.

It is found in a variety of rainforest and wet sclerophyll forests, in moist shady areas.

It grows on trees (epiphytic) and rocks (lithophytic) in rainforest.

Asplenium spp. exhibit a wide range of frond appearances as well as plant habits. In this species, the fronds are compound-pinnate to bi-pinnate, to about 1 m long by 30 cm wide, 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. Rather, spores 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 the cultivation potential of this species currently.

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

Can be grown as an epiphyte on trees and rocks in the garden.

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 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”.

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

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

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

Yarra Ranges Council – Local Plant Directory – Asplenium flaccidum profile page https://www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/PlantDirectory/Epiphytes/Asplenium-flaccidum

Wikipedia – Asplenium flaccidum profile page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asplenium_flaccidum

By Dan Clarke