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Boston fern

Boston fern
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Pteridopsida
Subclass: Polypoditae
Order: Davalliales
Genus: Nephrolepis

Nephrolepis exaltata

The Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is a spreading plant is often grown in hanging baskets or similar conditions. The leaflets are in a clearly alternate pattern. The fonds of the fern may be three feet long and span six inches, each pinnae being about three inches. (Pinnae are the small "leaflets" on either side of the midrib) The pinnae are generally deltoid, as seen in the picture to the right. The pinnate vein pattern is also visible on these highly compound leafs. The edges appear slightly serrate.


Life cycle and hardiness

The Boston fern is a perennial in the USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11. Although the fern may appear totally dead due to frost, it will re-emerge in the spring. In general, the Boston Fern likes damp, but not soggy soil that is rich in nutrients. Of the common cultivated ferns, the Boston Fern is the most tolerant to drought. The fern thrives best in humid conditions, so when grown as a house plant it becomes necessary to mist the plant when relative humidity falls below around 80%. Although outdoors this plant prefers partial shade or full shade, inside it grows best in bright filtered light. This plant is usually propagated by division of the rooted runners, as the varieties will not come from true spores.

It is a common in humid forests and swamps, especially in Florida, South America, Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, Polynesia and Africa. This is due to the wind carrying the spores. Some specific cultivars have established themselves in Florida.

Background information

The first fossil records of ferns date back to the early Carboniferous era. By the Triassic period, there is the first evidence of ferns related to several modern families. During the Cretaceous, many modern families of ferns first appeared.


Ferns have traditionally been grouped in the class Filices , but some modern classifications assign them their own division in the plant kingdom, known as Pteridophyta.

  • Phylum or Division: Pteridophyta (traditionally Filices )
  • Class: Pteridopsida
  • Subclass: Polypoditae
  • Order: Davalliales
  • Variety: Bostoniensis

*This variety of fern has been clasified under the Davalliaceae, Polypodiaceae, and Oleandraceae families by various authorities.

External links

Last updated: 05-26-2005 22:41:55
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