Polypodium aureum: Hare’s-foot Fern

Looking at these ferns, many will have the feeling they have seen this species before. This may be so, for it is commonly grown by nurserymen and its foliage is often added to bouquets of precious flowers such as orchids. Besides, this striking fern may be found in every botanical garden and is not likely to pass unnoticed.

It is native to tropical America. In the mountain forests where daily mists are the rule it has plenty of moisture. That is also why the stout rhizome, thickly covered with scales, trails over the bare bark of trees without drying out. Indoors, of course, it is difficult to keep atmospheric moisture at the required level and so it is recommended to attach the fern to a ball of moss or epiphytic compost which is kept watered. The fronds tolerate a dry atmosphere; however, they will benefit by occasional syringing. The fern can also be used in a dish arrangement, the rhizome being placed on the surface of the compost with some moss, and perhaps also sand, underneath.

Like other epiphytic ferns this one is also comparatively tolerant of fairly strong light. This, of course, does not mean it should be placed in a southern window, but it does well in partial shade and does not mind morning or late afternoon sun.

Polypodium aureum (Syn. Pleopeltis aureum) is striking when grouped together with other small epiphytic ferns, such as members of the Asiatic genus Pyrrosia.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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