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Black Spleenwort

Asplenium adiantum-nigrum

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Plant Profile

Aspleniaceae (Spleenwort)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Cliffs, gardens, rocky places, seaside, walls.
The spores mature from June to November.
Black Spleenwort is very variable in appearance. It has shiny, dark green, triangular fronds and pointed, toothed secondary leaflets. From above, a closer look reveals that the stems are double-grooved. It has reddish-brown stalks.
Other Names:
Black Oak-fern, French Fern.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, also known as the black spleenwort, is a fern species that is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is a small, evergreen fern that forms rosettes of triangular, dark green fronds. The fronds are typically between 4 and 12 inches long and have a glossy, leathery texture. It is typically found in damp, shady areas, such as crevices in rocks, walls or on tree trunks. It is easy to grow and it is suitable for rock gardens, coastal gardens, and indoor cultivation as well. This fern is also drought tolerant and can survive with low maintenance.


Black Spleenwort, scientifically known as Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, is a perennial fern species that belongs to the family Aspleniaceae. This plant is native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa and is commonly found growing on walls, rocks, and cliff faces in shaded and damp areas. The name "spleenwort" is derived from the belief that this plant could cure disorders of the spleen.

The Black Spleenwort is a small fern, usually growing up to 30 cm tall, with dark green leaves that are lance-shaped, shiny, and slightly leathery. The fronds are typically arranged in a rosette pattern and can be either evergreen or semi-evergreen. The fern's spores are produced in small, oval-shaped structures called sori that are found on the undersides of the leaves.

Black Spleenwort has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It was believed to have diuretic and astringent properties and was used to treat disorders of the spleen, liver, and bladder. The leaves were also used in the treatment of coughs, fevers, and other respiratory problems. In addition to its medicinal properties, Black Spleenwort has also been used in cooking, particularly in the preparation of salads and as a flavoring for stews.

Black Spleenwort is a popular garden plant and is easy to grow in a variety of soil types, including well-drained, moist, and alkaline soils. It prefers shady and moist areas, but can tolerate some sun if the soil is kept moist. It is an excellent plant for rock gardens and looks particularly attractive when grown in crevices in walls or between rocks.

Black Spleenwort is a fascinating fern species that has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It is an attractive and easy-to-grow plant that can add beauty to any garden. While it may not be as well-known as some other ferns, the Black Spleenwort is definitely worth considering for any gardener looking to add some unique and interesting plants to their collection.

Black Spleenwort has a number of interesting features that make it a popular plant among gardeners and nature enthusiasts. For example, the dark green leaves of this fern have a unique and striking appearance, which can add an elegant touch to any garden. In addition, Black Spleenwort is a very resilient plant that can tolerate a range of growing conditions, making it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for low-maintenance plants.

One of the most interesting aspects of Black Spleenwort is its ability to grow in harsh and challenging environments. This fern is often found growing in rocky, cliffside locations where other plants struggle to survive. Its resilience and adaptability have made it a popular choice for use in rock gardens and other similar landscaping applications.

Another notable feature of Black Spleenwort is its use in traditional medicine. While there is limited scientific evidence to support the plant's medicinal properties, it has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for a range of ailments. In particular, Black Spleenwort has been used to treat problems with the liver and spleen, as well as respiratory issues and digestive disorders. While it is always important to exercise caution when using any natural remedies, the historical use of Black Spleenwort in traditional medicine is an interesting aspect of this unique plant.

Black Spleenwort is a fascinating plant species that offers a range of interesting features and potential benefits. Whether you are interested in growing this fern for its beauty or exploring its traditional medicinal uses, there is no denying that Black Spleenwort is a plant with a rich and interesting history that is worth learning more about.

Black Spleenwort is also known for its ecological importance, particularly in providing habitat for a range of insects and other small animals. The fern's fronds provide shelter and hiding places for various creatures, and its spores serve as an important food source for a number of insect species. Additionally, Black Spleenwort has been found to play a role in stabilizing soil and preventing erosion, particularly in rocky or steep terrain.

Asplenium adiantum-nigrum has a number of other interesting features that make it a unique and attractive plant species. For example, the fern's leaves can sometimes appear almost black in color, particularly in the shade. This dark coloration adds a striking contrast to the greenery of other plants, making Black Spleenwort a particularly striking addition to any garden.

In terms of cultivation, Black Spleenwort is generally an easy plant to grow, particularly if given the right growing conditions. The fern prefers a shady, moist environment, and is particularly well-suited to growing in rock gardens, crevices, and other similar locations. Black Spleenwort is also well-suited to container gardening, making it a great option for those with limited outdoor space.

Overall, Black Spleenwort is a plant species with a range of interesting features and potential benefits. Whether you are interested in its medicinal uses, its ecological importance, or its beauty as a garden plant, there is no denying that Asplenium adiantum-nigrum is a fascinating and unique species that is worth exploring further.


Black Spleenwort filmed in Lancashire on the 11th March 2023.


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