Plant Guide > Ferns > Sea Spleenwort Fern

Sea Spleenwort Fern



The Sea Spleenwort Fern is a very handsome evergreen fern, and, like the Lanceolate Spleenwort Fern, is a maritime species. It has pinnate tufted fronds from six inches to a foot in height. It is narrow, lanceolate in outline; the pinnae are stalked and serrated, connected at the base by a narrow wing extending along the rachis. The pinnae are unequal at the base, the upper side or edge being much developed, while the lower portion looks as if a piece had been cut off. The sori are borne on the mid-rib; they are linear and large.

It is abundant on all our coasts excepting the eastern side of England. In the south-west of England and in Wales it is most profuse: it abounds about Ilfra-combe and Lee in Devonshire. It grows out from the sides of caves near the sea-rocks or cliffs. It is found at Hastings, and as far north as Scarborough, in Yorkshire. In every county in Ireland which borders the sea it is abundant. The visitor to the lakes of Killarney cannot fail to observe this beautiful fern in its luxuriance on the almost inaccessible rocks which abound there, where, from its situation, it is tolerably safe from the rapacious hands of the fern-collector. In the Channel Islands it is luxuriant. Its European range seems limited to the coasts of France and Spain. It is plentiful in Madeira and Teneriffe.

Although so common a fern on our sheltered seacoasts, it is very difficult to deal with artificially, and seldom succeeds in the open air - never in the neighbourhood of London. In a Ward's case, however, with the Lanceolate Spleenwort and Maiden Hair, it does exceedingly well in a warm room. They all enjoy warmth, and being all evergreens of moderate size, are well adapted for such a position. It may here be remarked, that for the successful cultivation of all small evergreen ferns of this kind great care must be had to the drainage.

Turfy peat and silver-sand, mixed with friable loam, and pieces of porous sandstone or brick added to fibrous loam, is the composition which suits them best. They should never be kept wet, but moderately moistened, and the roots tolerably dry. Separate plants of Asplenium marinum may be supplied with water in which half an ounce of common salt to a gallon has been dissolved; poured in at the root, never over the fronds. This fern is most difficult to dry for the herbarium, on account of the quantity of salt contained in its fronds. It is best to dry it separately, if possible, in order to prevent mischief to other specimens.