Asplenium trichomanes

Common Spleenwort

Family: Aspleniaceae

A delicate erect ground fern, growing from a rhizome, found in higher altitudes on the tablelands of NSW, usually on limestone substrates.

It grows mainly on the tablelands of NSW, extending into Qld, Vic, S.A and W.A. and NZ. It also grows in the northern hemisphere. The entire species likely consists of subspecies.

It is very similar to Asplenium flabellifolium, but grows upright with linear fronds which are divided into segments and so are considered compound-pinnate. Fronds are to 20 cm long with separate segments/pinnae, which are lanceolate to oblong, pale green to about 1 cm long.

Being a fern, no flowers or fruits are produced. Spores are produced in sori, to 3 mm long, on the underside of the frond segments in pairs, with 3 to 6 pairs per segment.

In the garden

Not much is known about its cultivation currently. However, it is cultivated overseas (see references). Reputed to be hardy, doing well in containers, rock gardens and shady beds.

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

As it is found on limestone, it may tolerate poor drainage.

May suffer from scale if grown indoors. Would be frost tolerant.


Propagation is from plant division or by spores.

Other information

Likely able to regenerate after fires from rhizomes.

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”.
trichomanes – Greek (τριχομάνες) – basically translating to “hairpins”, referring to the brown scales on the rhizomes.

Not considered at risk in the wild.

https://www.gardenia.net/plant/asplenium-trichomanes https://hardyferns.org/ferns/asplenium-trichomanes/

By Dan Clarke