Weeds of Wednesday: Bad hair day or not?

Fern, Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area

As part of his basic botany walk/talk on November 18, 2017, Dr. George Rogers, Horticulture Chair at Palm Beach State College, pointed out the difference between native Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and non-native Asian sword fern (Nephrolepis browneii), both of which grow together at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA).

With his characteristic, compelling sense of humor, Dr. Rogers described wild Boston fern, sometimes also known as sword fern, as the bad hair day fern (see above). The hairs along its rachis (central stem) are one color and not neatly arranged.

Non-native Asian sword fern by contrast, has short, stiff, neatly arranged hairs along its rachis. These hairs are two-colored.  Ralph Johansen (Class of 2014 ) examines a frond of this fern deemed to be a category #1 invasive pest plant by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC).

Click here to read more about differentiating these two ferns, as well as tuberous sword fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia), in a Institute of Food and Agricultural Science/University of Florida publication written by now retired Dr. Ken Langeland.