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Onoclea sensibilis

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
on-OH-klee-ah sen-si-BIL-iss
Description

Onoclea sensibilis, commonly called sensitive fern, is a large, somewhat coarse, deciduous fern which occurs in wet woods and thickets and in moist soils along streams and springs. It can grow up to 4' tall. It features long-stalked, deeply pinnatifid, bright green, vegetative (sterile) fronds (2-4' long) with leathery, triangular leaflets (pinnae) which have distinctively netted veins. Shorter, erect, woody-like fertile fronds (to 12" tall), whose ultimate divisions are bead-like segments, typically brown up in late summer and persist throughout the remaining season and winter. Commonly called sensitive fern because the green vegetative fronds are sensitive to and suffer almost immediate damage from the first fall frost. Also sensitive to drought.

It is best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade. It needs consistent moisture. Although native to swampy and marshy areas, it grows quite well in average garden soil as long as the soil is not allowed to dry out. Usually grows taller in wet soils which it tolerates well. Spreads by both creeping rhizomes and spores, and can be somewhat aggressive in optimum growing conditions.

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaf:  Summer                  

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: The foliage may depreciate as summer progresses in hot climates, particularly if soils are not kept moist.

 

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#rain garden#wildlife plant#cover plant#ncemgva2018#NC native#naturalizes#native fern#cover
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#rain garden#wildlife plant#cover plant#ncemgva2018#NC native#naturalizes#native fern#cover
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Onoclea
    Species:
    sensibilis
    Family:
    Onocleaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Wildlife Value:
    It provides excellent ground cover for animals.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Highly resistant to damage from deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Fern
    Native Plant
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Black
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Fronds
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Other/more complex
    Leaf Shape:
    Rhomboidal
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    The sensitive fern has broad, almost triangular fronds. The sterile fronds are deeply pinnatified to bipinnatified, and thin texture. The fronds of most pinnae are nearly opposite, the rachis is smooth, pale tan or yellow. The fronds turn yellow or russet in the fall. Fertile fronds emerge in late summer, are woody with beadlike segments, brown and persist into winter. Stipes are long (one half to two-thirds of frond), network veined. It is dimorphic (occurring in or representing two distinct forms).
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Garden for the Blind
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Problems:
    Weedy