Asplenium scolopendrium

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Asplenium scolopendrium L.


Life form: perennial

Exposure: half shade   5

Moisture: moist

Soil: sand - Soil: gritty-sandy

Arrangement: basal
Leaves: semi-evergreen

Shape: linear

Division: simple

Shape: not specified
Fruit: not specified


Inflorescence: not specified

Petals: not specified
Habit: not specified

Growth form: clump-forming



Asplenium scolopendrium, Hart's tongue fern, is a perennial suited for shady positions.


Asplenium scolopendrium was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The name is considered as validly published.

Common Names

  • Hart's tongue fern
  • Hart's tongue
  • burnt weed
  • christ's hair
  • horse tongue
  • buttonhole


Asplenium scolopendrium is a species in the genus Asplenium which contains approximately 389 to 1572 species and belongs to the family of the Aspleniaceae (Spleenwort Family).


Asplenium scolopendrium - habitus
Asplenium scolopendrium - young leaves
Asplenium scolopendrium -
sori (sporangia)
A. scolopendrium 'Crispa'
with 'natural' neighbours


The comparatively slow-growing perennials have a clumpforming habit and reach heights of 15 to 50 centimetres. The plants reach a width of 30 to 60 centimetres.


Asplenium scolopendrium is semi-deciduous. The dark-green, simple leaves are basal. They are linear with undulate margins. The leaves are around 40 to 50 centimetres large and have a glabrous to leathery surface.

Root System

The plants form rhizomes.


Asplenium scolopendrium is native to the whole of Europe, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, the Caucasus, northern Iran, Japan, the Canary Islands, Northwest Africa, Libya, Canada, the Northeast of the US, the central Northeast of the US, the Southeast of the US and Mexico.


The perennials prefer a half-shady situation on moist soil. The substrate should be sandy or gritty-sandy soil with a pH between 8 and 10. They tolerate temperatures down to -29°C (USDA zone 5). The plants are suited for natural streams.

In summer the plants prefer humid conditions. In winter the plants prefer bright light, frost-free conditions.

Classification after Prof. Dr. Sieber:

  • rockeries
  • stone cracks
  • woodland borders (soil usually rich in humus)
  • woods (soil usually rich in organic material)

Tolerance of special soil conditions

  • none: full sun, dryness of the root ball, waterlogging, dry air


Asplenium scolopendrium is considered excellent cultivar. The recommended planting distance is 30 to 40 centimetres, the perennials are best planted in groups of 3 to 15. Suited for rockeries and for mixed borders, as well as suited as cemetery plant, groundcover, container plant, cut flowers and as indoor plant.

Maintenance and Propagation

  • The plants develop best if they are left to grow undisturbed.
  • For healthy growth apply a compound fertilizer monthly during growth.

Propagate by division in spring.


Pests and Diseases

Scale insects that sit on the undersides of the leaves and excrete honeydew can be controlled with insecticide or biologically with parasitic wasps.


  • Walter Erhardt, Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: Der große Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
  • Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.

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