Asplenium pteridoides

Hen and Chicken Fern

Family: Aspleniaceae

A very attractive clumping fern confined to Lord Howe Island. It is typically found in mountainous rainforest, growing on basalt in cool rain forest understorey.
It is considered to be mainly terrestrial whereas other species like A. gracillimum can be epiphytic.

This fern has a very nice form with fronds to 40 cm long, erect to pendent. The fronds are considered compound-bipinnate with the segments of the fronds strongly divided into pinnatifid segments, dark to light green. The terminal segments of fronds (pinnae) are diamond-shaped. The fronds themselves are also very thin and seemingly fragile.

Being a fern, no flowers or fruits are produced.

Spores are produced in linear to elliptic sori, to 3 mm long, with up to two underneath each terminal frond segment.

In the garden

Not known to be in cultivation. However, it likely requires the same conditions as that of A. gracillimum.

Can possibly be grown as an indoor and outdoor plant.

Grow in dappled shade with reliable moisture and an enriched soil, it likes shady gardens. Can be used in around water features.

Likely needs afternoon shade to do well.



Propagation is from plant division or by spores.

Other information

This species used to be part of Asplenium bulbiferum. Recent studies have re-classified the Australian species. Websites which provide information for growing this plant likely refer to Asplenium bulbiferum. It is very similar to the mainland species, A. gracillimum but has different shaped frond segments and overall shorter fronds.

Likely grows in habitat not prone to fire.

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”.
pteridoides – Latin – resembling the genus Pteridium (Bracken Fern).

Rare – confined to mountain tops on Lord Howe Island.



By Dan Clarke