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Onoclea sensibilis

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Plant types and subtypes: Ferns, Ground Covers

Light Requirements: part-shade, shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist, wet

Soil Description: acid, neutral, rich, average, loam, clay, sand

Height: 2'-3'

Leaf Color: green, lime-green

Hardiness Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Additional Tags: bog plant, colonizing, fall interest, naturalizing, ornamental foliage, pond margin plant, shade garden plant, stream margin plant, swamp plant, water garden plant, wetland plant, woodland plant

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
  • Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
  • Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
  • Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
  • Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)

Pricing & Availability

Description

Onoclea sensibilis

Also known as:

sensitive fern

,

bead fern

,

sympathy fern

Scientific Synonyms:

Description

Onoclea sensibilisis a deciduous fern that can easily be recognized by its broad, deeply pinnatifid (divided into leaflets), sterile fronds. These leathery pinnae (leaflets) are bright green with undulating margins. This is considered a medium to large fern, which commonly grows to a height of 3'. The fertile fronds appear in late summer and are much shorter. They are brown in color and consist of stems with hard, bead-like, modified leaflets. These will persist through winter and eventually open up to release the spores. This distinctive feature gave rise to the common name bead fern. Spring highlights yet another attractive feature of this fern: reddish fiddleheads that appear en-mass in naturalized areas.

Cultivation

Sensitive fern has a large native range and is typically found in rich, moist woods as well as bogs and wetlands. It tolerates occasional inundation and can even grow with its base permanently submerged, so long as the water is well oxygenated. It will tolerate part-sun if planted in a wet environment. It will easily grow under typical garden conditions, in full to part shade, in rich moist soil that is not allowed to dry out for any extended period of time. Onoclea sensibilis will form colonies by means of shallow rhizomes. Under ideal conditions it can spread aggressively, forming an effective ground cover. Very hardy: zones 3-8.

Propagation

Easy to propagate by root/rhizome division. Can be propagated by spores.

Additional Notes

Though the sensitive fern is extremely hardy, it got its common name because the fronds will wilt and die at the first sign of frost. Both fertile and sterile fronds are decorative and can be cut and used in flower arrangements.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision
Division Pteridophyta Ferns
Class Filicopsida
Subclass
Order Polypodiales
Family Dryopteridaceae Wood Fern family
Genus Onoclea sensitive fern
Species Onoclea sensibilis sensitive fern