Ferns and Fern Allies in the Canberra Region

Asplenium bulbiferum - Mother Spleenwort

habit Asplenium bulbiferum grows widely in the moister areas of south eastern Australia and is locally common in moist gullies in the Canberra region. It is readily avalable in plant nurseries. It has a semi-weeping form when full size, but small plants stand erect. Locally the fronds can be up to 90cm (3') long. It grows in sheltered mountain gullies where flowing water is permanent, with an overstory of Dicksonia antarctica. It favours sites on moist creek banks and on the treefern trunks. In this area, it is invariably associated with flowing water, close to permanent creeks and almost always with waterfalls, sometimes growing right under them. The correlation between fern and habitat is so reliable here that we have never found a waterfall in the mountains without also finding A. bulbiferum growing nearby.

growing in a waterfall
This plant illustrates the tendency to grow near waterfalls. After rain this waterfall would probably envelop the plant.

bulbilA key identifying feature of A. bulbiferum is its ability to grow proliferous buds on the tips of its fronds, with associated vegitative propagation. This image is a close up of one of these bulbils. The baby fronds are about 2.5cm (1") long.

A view of the spore distribution under the pinnae of A. bulbiferum. It is subtly different from related species such as A. flaccidum.

back site mapDavid Nicholls
January 1998