Long Spleenwort (Asplenium heterochroum)

Long Spleenwort is a fern-like plant that grows in damp, shaded rocky habitats, such as around caves and in rocky woodland. It is also known to grow out of man-made structures made of stone. Also known as the Bicoloured Spleenwort, this species is native to Bermuda, as well as the Caribbean, Southern United States, Mexico and Central America.

 Long Spleenwort growing from a Bermuda stone chimney

Long Spleenwort growing from a Bermuda stone chimney

The leaves of Long Spleenwort can grow up to 16 inches long. Each leaf blade is about an inch wide with 20-40 pairs of pinnae (leaflets on a fern). The pinnae have toothed edges and grow opposite each other on a black central stem. These tough stems sometimes remain on the plant after the bright green leaves have dropped off. The reproductive structures are linear spores held on the underside of the pinnae on mature leaf blades.

Britton described the Long Spleenwort as common island-wide on walls, cliffs and shaded rocks. Today it may still be distributed island-wide, but is rarely seen. Due to its significant decline, this native species is listed under the Protected Species Act 2003 (Protected Species Order 2007).

 Spores of Long Spleenwort

Spores of Long Spleenwort

Conservation action for this species includes the island-wide mapping of populations and some ex situ spore propagation. 

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