Common Name Confusion

Common names work great for birds.  Not so much for plants.

Recently, the native epiphytic native fern Phlebodium aureum, which usually growing in the “boots” (old leafstems) of cabbage palms (Sabal palmetto), was labeled to be rabbit foot fern (Davalia fejeensis) in signage on the ORCA link property.  Rabbit foot fern, a houseplant in the U.S., is native to Fiji and, according the Florida Plant Atlas, is not found (outside) in Florida.  Whoever authored the sign was confused by the common name rabbit foot fern and likely got the scientific name from a quick internet search.

Golden polypody is the common name given to Phlebodium aureum by the Florida Plant Atlas.  Cabbage palm fern, golden serpent fern, cabbage palm fern, gold-foot fern, and hare-foot fern are other common names for this fern.

Shown below during droughty conditions at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area is the rhizome of this fern.  The drought has caused all of the fronds to fall off and has withered the adjacent shoestring fern (Vittaria lineata).

Beware of common plant names!

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