Plant Guide > Ferns > Hard Fern

Hard Fern


HARD FERN

BLECHNUM SPICANT

Synonyms:
Blechnum boreale
Lomaria spicant
Osmunda spicant

The Hard Fern has simply pinnate fronds, tufted, of two kinds - fertile and barren. The fertile fronds are in the centre of the tuft, erect, from a foot to a foot and a half high, with narrow acute segments. The lower half of the stem is dark purple, smooth, shining, and naked; the under surface of the pinnae densely and completely covered with seed. The barren fronds are deeply pinnatifid, from one and a half to two-thirds as high as the fertile fronds; they assume a spreading or horizontal position, and are attached to the caudex by a very short scaly stipet. The fertile fronds arrive at perfection in September, and shed their seed and disappear before winter; but the fertile ones remain green throughout the year.

It is by no means a rare fern, and delights in moist boggy land. It is also found on stony heaths and woods throughout England; indeed, scarcely any lover of wild flowers can fail to have observed it in the hedges among the ferns and grasses of summer. By old writers the plant was called Rough Spleenwort; and old Gerarde, of whom we have before spoken, mentions an " old wife's fable," about the efficacy of this plant, when boiled, in curing diseases of the liver, and "hardness and swelling of the spleen." It is almost in vain to look for this fern on a chalk soil, as it is rarely met with there. Mr. Newman does not recollect having seen a specimen from the chalk hills of Kent, Sussex, or Surrey.

In rock-work, or in any out-door collection of ferns, this Blechnum does well, and requires no special attention beyond a sufficient supply of moisture. In transplanting it is well to bring away a good portion of its native soil around the roots. In cases it does not flourish so well, as it seems to require open air to thrive.