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Asplenium nidus

Phonetic Spelling
as-PLEE-nee-um NYE-dus
Description

Bird's Nest Fern is a tropical, slow growing, evergreen, perennial, epiphyte native to Hawaii and the Pacific Basin. It inhabits rain forests and is found in soils or on branches of trees. It belongs to the Spleenwort family of ferns, whose name refers to the historical belief that these plants had medicinal value for the spleen.  In the continental U.S., Bird's Nest Fern may be grown as an indoor house plant and will not survive temperatures below 50 deg F. It is characterized by dramatic foliage similar in appearance to banana leaves.  Large, simple, stemless, strap-shaped, bright green fronds have a dark brown-black mid-rib and wavy margins. Overlapping fronds form a rosette with a nest-like center, spreading upwards then gracefully arching outwards. Its common name arises from fronds rolling back and turning brown as they die causing a 'birds nest' to develop in the crown of the plant.  Accumulation of dead organic material in the crown also nourishes the plant.  Shallow rhizomes allow this plant to establish itself on tree branches, fallen trunks, mossy surfaces, or soils. This genus produces no flowers or fruit, and reproduces primarily through spores.  Bird's Nest spores are found in brown sporophores on the undersides of leaves. In native habitats, or zones where it is winter hardy, outdoor plants’ fronds reach lengths of 4-5 feet by 8 inches wide. Indoor houseplant fronds are typically 1.5-2 feet long. It does best in rich, moist, porous soil such as a fern potting mix. Bright light or light shade, such as a north-facing window is suitable. Too much sun may turn it yellow or stop growth. Ideal temperatures are 60-70 degrees F.  Since epiphytes require high humidity and soil moisture, this plant does not tolerate dry conditions. Misting, or humidification on a pebble tray of water, may be needed to provide adequate humidity. However, water collecting in its crown should be avoided. Active growth periods may benefit from the monthly application of dilute liquid fertilizer.  Outdoors, in suitable growing zones, it is attractive in containers, hanging baskets, and mass plantings or it can be wired to a fibrous slab to grow epiphytically on tree trunks.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.  Fragile foliage, handle gently. Susceptible to slugs, snails, scale, mealybugs, bacterial leaf diseases, leaf nematodes, and chemical insecticides.  Avoid exposure to direct heat or drafts.

 

VIDEO Created by NC State Extension's Homegrown series featuring Mark Weathington, Director of JC Raulston Arboretum.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • A. nidus 'Osaka'
    This cultivar is slightly more cold hardy to 40 degrees F
A. nidus 'Osaka'
Tags:
#houseplant#shade garden#showy leaves#epiphytic#interiorscape#fern#rabbit resistant#deer resistant#fantz#humidity tolerant#container plants
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • A. nidus 'Osaka'
    This cultivar is slightly more cold hardy to 40 degrees F
A. nidus 'Osaka'
Tags:
#houseplant#shade garden#showy leaves#epiphytic#interiorscape#fern#rabbit resistant#deer resistant#fantz#humidity tolerant#container plants
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Asplenium
    Species:
    nidus
    Family:
    Aspleniaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Polynesia, HI, SE Asia, Australia, Madagascar
    Distribution:
    Polynesia, HI, SE Asia, Australia, Madagascar
    Wildlife Value:
    Food source for larvae of some Lepidoptera. Batrachedra bedelliella feeds exclusively on A. nidus.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Rabbits, deer, heavy shade
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Epiphyte
    Fern
    Houseplant
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    11b, 11a, 12a, 12b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits. This plant reproduces via spores.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Fronds
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Light green, glossy, simple, entire, strap shaped, wavy with a brown-black midrib. Fronds can grow to 4-5 feet long and 8 inches wide. Sori are found in clusters on the undersides, arranged in a herringbone fashion from the mid-rib to the margin of the leaf in black straight lines.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stemless
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Hanging Baskets
    Houseplants
    Landscape Theme:
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade
    Humidity
    Rabbits