Plant Guide > Ferns > Harts Tongue Fern

Harts Tongue Fern



Phyllitis Scolopendrium
Scolopendrium officinarum
Asplenium Scolopendrium
Scolopendrium Phyllitis

The Hart's Tongue Fern is a readily distinguishable species of fern, and is very graceful and beautiful, contrasting, as it does, with the feathery appearance so common in other ferns. It grows in tufts; the fronds, which are evergreen, are oblong, strap-shaped, and simple: they vary in length from six inches to a foot and a half. At first they appear erect and stiff, but afterwards assume a pendulous habit, spreading out in a circular manner from the clumps of roots which are so well known in every rural district. The sori are arranged at short intervals on the upper portion of the frond, in the direction of the veins. The name of this species is an alteration of Scolopendra, or Centipede, from a fancied resemblance between the feet of the centipede and the arrangement of the sori. It attains perfection in July and August, and remains green all the winter. The difference of circumstances, especially in cultivation, causes such changes in the appearance of this plant that many varieties have been described; but few are, however, permanent, or require special notice. Scolopendrium crispum, Scolopendrium polyschides, Scolopendrium multifidum, and Scolopendrium lacertum are those we have thought most permanent, and likely to be met with.

Some forms of this fern are viviparous, or have buds separating from the stem and growing spontaneously.

The Hart's Tongue and its varieties are commonly found on shady banks, in the clefts of old rocks, and about old buildings throughout Great Britain ; though not so frequently in Scotland as elsewhere. In the Isle of Wight it grows luxuriantly, and in the woody spots between Ventnor and Niton may be seen in perfection. It delights in underwoods and shrubberies; and the large handsome tufts consist of fronds arching from the centre, like the long feathers of a cock's tail.