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Green Spleenwort

Asplenium viride

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Plant Profile

Aspleniaceae (Spleenwort)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Cliffs, rocky places, walls.
Ferns do not have flowers.
The spores ripen from August to November.
The narrow, oblong, leaves reach 14cm in length and have oval, toothed leaflets. The leaflets are in opposite pairs. Similar in appearance to Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes) but smaller and with more distinctly toothed leaflets. Green leaf stalks. Maidenhair leaf stalks has purplish-brown leaf stalks. Deciduous.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Asplenium viride is a fern species in the family Aspleniaceae, also known as the green spleenwort. This species is native to eastern North America, where it can be found growing in rocky crevices and on cliffs. The leaves are typically around 10-30 cm long and are dark green in color. The sori (spore-producing structures) are located on the undersides of the leaves. The species can tolerate shade or partial sun exposure. It is considered a hardy and drought-tolerant species, but it prefers moist and well-draining soils.


Green spleenwort (Asplenium viride) is a delicate and elegant fern that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. This fern is commonly found growing in the crevices of damp and shady rock faces, as well as in the gaps between the stones of old walls.

The fronds of the green spleenwort are typically between 10-30cm in length and are pinnately divided, meaning that they have leaflets arranged on either side of a central stem. The leaflets of the green spleenwort are long and narrow, with pointed tips and finely toothed edges. The colour of the leaflets is a bright green, which gives the fern its name.

Green spleenwort is an evergreen fern, which means that it retains its foliage throughout the year. This fern is particularly well-suited to shady locations, where it can thrive with little direct sunlight. It is also relatively hardy, withstanding temperatures as low as -15°C.

One of the most interesting things about green spleenwort is its reproductive cycle. The fern produces spores on the undersides of its fronds, which are then dispersed by the wind. When these spores land in a suitable location, they germinate and grow into new ferns. This process can take several years, but it allows the fern to spread and colonize new areas.

Green spleenwort has a number of traditional medicinal uses. For example, the fern has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a range of conditions, including fever, coughs, and bronchitis. In Western herbal medicine, green spleenwort has been used as a treatment for liver and spleen disorders, as well as for rheumatism and arthritis.

In addition to its medicinal uses, green spleenwort also has some culinary uses. The young fronds of the fern can be eaten raw or cooked, and are said to have a slightly sweet and nutty flavour. However, it is important to note that the fern should be cooked thoroughly before consumption, as some species of fern can be toxic if eaten raw.

Green spleenwort is a fascinating and beautiful fern that has a range of traditional uses. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties or simply appreciate its delicate beauty, this fern is definitely worth getting to know.

Green spleenwort is a popular ornamental plant for shade gardens and rock gardens due to its attractive, fine-textured foliage and ease of cultivation. It can be grown in containers or planted in the ground, as long as it is provided with well-drained, moist soil and partial to full shade.

In the wild, green spleenwort is an important plant for supporting biodiversity. It provides habitat and food for a range of small animals, including insects, snails, and slugs. It is also an important food source for the caterpillars of several species of butterfly and moth.

Unfortunately, green spleenwort is under threat in some areas due to habitat loss and degradation. Rock faces and walls where it grows are often destroyed or modified for development, and the fern is also at risk from over-collection by plant enthusiasts. To ensure the survival of this important species, it is important to protect and conserve its natural habitats and to discourage the collection of wild specimens.

Green spleenwort is a fascinating and beautiful fern with a range of traditional uses and ecological significance. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its culinary potential, or simply appreciate its delicate beauty, this fern is a plant that is definitely worth learning more about.

Green spleenwort has several close relatives that are also popular among gardeners and plant enthusiasts. One of the most similar species is Asplenium trichomanes, which is commonly known as maidenhair spleenwort. Maidenhair spleenwort is a smaller fern, with fronds that are typically between 5-15cm in length. The leaflets of maidenhair spleenwort are similar in shape to those of green spleenwort, but are usually a darker green in colour. Like green spleenwort, maidenhair spleenwort is an evergreen fern that is commonly found growing in the crevices of rocks and walls.

Another close relative of green spleenwort is Asplenium scolopendrium, which is commonly known as hart's tongue fern. Hart's tongue fern is a larger fern, with fronds that can grow up to 60cm in length. Unlike green spleenwort, hart's tongue fern has long, undivided fronds that are shaped like the tongue of a deer. The foliage of hart's tongue fern is a deep green colour, and the plant is also an evergreen species.

Finally, Asplenium nidus is another relative of green spleenwort that is commonly known as the bird's nest fern. This fern is native to tropical regions, and has large, glossy fronds that can grow up to 90cm in length. The fronds of the bird's nest fern are undivided, and have a distinctive nest-like shape. Unlike green spleenwort, the bird's nest fern is not cold-hardy and must be grown in a warm, humid environment. It is a popular houseplant that is valued for its attractive foliage and ease of care.

Overall, the Asplenium genus contains a diverse range of ferns that are valued for their attractive foliage and hardy nature. Whether you are interested in the delicate beauty of green spleenwort, the large, glossy fronds of the bird's nest fern, or the unique shape of hart's tongue fern, there is sure to be an Asplenium species that will catch your eye.


The first fern in this video is the very common Maidenhair spleenwort with the black central stalk (rachis). The second fern is the rare Green Spleenwort with a green central stalk and a groove along its middle. Filmed at Scout Scar, Cumbria on the 16th July 2022.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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