Friday, December 18, 2015

Giant Vine Fern (Stenochlaena tenuifolia)

Giant Vine Fern (Stenochlaena tenuifolia) is an impressive species with large fronds up to 4 feet in length. It makes an excellent tall groundcover for large areas under trees, or a lush background planting for other colorful or flowering plants.

The leaves have heavy substance and are long-lasting as cut greens in floral arrangements. Young fiddleheads are edible if cooked until tender.

Once established, this fern spreads by rhizomes that run along the soil surface. The rhizomes are also able to climb trees, preferably those with rough or fibrous trunks for easier attachment.

Mature specimens of Giant Vine Fern grow a few specialized fertile fronds that produce spores, by which this plant can be propagated, although it's much simpler and faster to use sections of the rhizome. In the next photo you can see a thin, fertile, spore-producing frond compared to the typical foliage.

Here's a closer view of the spores:

This species will grow in sun or shade, and wet or dry conditions. The foliage looks best with at least a little shade in tropical regions. In the sunniest locations moist soil is preferred. I've never had to provide any irrigation beyond our natural rainfall when growing it in morning sun. Its tolerance for adverse conditions also make it a good houseplant.

Stenochlaena tenuifolia is native to equatorial Africa, and is recommended for USDA Zones 9-11. It can be container-grown anywhere.

Buy a rhizome section for planting here!