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Ribbon Fern

Pteris cretica

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Plant Profile

Pteridaceae (Maidenhair Fern)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Cliffs, gardens, rocky places, walls, woodland.
Ferns are flowerless.
The spores ripen in April and May.
A tufted evergreen fern with 4 to 7 pairs of linear, dark green leaflets. Sometimes the lowest leaflet is forked.
Other Names:
Cretan Brake, Cretan Brake Fern, Cretan Fern, Ladder Brake Fern, Table Fern.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Pteris cretica, also known as the Cretan brake or ladder brake fern, is a species of fern that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a hardy, evergreen fern that can grow to be about 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) tall and wide. The fronds are triangular in shape, are dark green and glossy, and have a distinct midrib. They are usually undivided, but in some varieties, the fronds can be finely divided.

This species is found in many different types of habitats, including rocky woods, cliffs, ledges and slopes, and is drought tolerant, it can grow in full sun or partial shade.

It is an attractive ornamental plant that is often used in gardens and landscapes, it can be grown in rock gardens, woodland gardens, or along a stream or pond. It also can be used in large containers on patios, decks or terraces, or they can be used as indoor house plants. It can be propagated by spores or by division of the rhizomes.

Care for Pteris cretica is easy, it requires consistent moisture, but can tolerate drought once established. It prefers light shade or filtered sunlight, but it can also grow in full sun or full shade, it's not picky about soil type, but it prefers well-draining soil that is consistently moist. It can be fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer in spring for best growth.

It's hardy and easy to care, makes it a good choice for many garden and landscape settings, and it can also be an interesting addition to a collection of ferns.


Ribbon fern, also known as Pteris cretica, is a beautiful and easy-to-grow fern that is native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Its delicate, lacy fronds add an elegant touch to any indoor or outdoor space, making it a popular choice among gardeners and plant enthusiasts.

One of the most distinctive features of the ribbon fern is its long, narrow fronds, which can grow up to 24 inches in length and 2 inches in width. The fronds are typically bright green in color and have a wavy, almost ribbon-like appearance, which is where the plant gets its common name.

Ribbon ferns are versatile plants that can thrive in a variety of conditions, from bright, indirect sunlight to partial shade. They prefer well-draining soil and regular watering, but can tolerate periods of dryness if necessary. In addition, they are relatively pest-resistant and low-maintenance, making them a great choice for beginner gardeners.

One of the key benefits of ribbon ferns is that they are effective air purifiers, helping to remove harmful pollutants from the air in your home or office. They are particularly effective at removing formaldehyde, which is found in many household products such as furniture, flooring, and cleaning supplies. This makes them a great choice for anyone looking to improve the air quality in their living or working space.

If you're interested in growing a ribbon fern, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure to choose a container that is large enough to accommodate the plant's roots and provide plenty of drainage. You can also propagate ribbon ferns by dividing the rhizomes, which are the underground stems that the fronds grow from.

In terms of care, it's important to keep your ribbon fern moist but not waterlogged, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. You can also fertilize your ferns every few weeks during the growing season to encourage healthy growth.

Ribbon ferns are a beautiful and versatile plant that can add a touch of elegance to any indoor or outdoor space. With proper care, they can thrive for years, making them a great investment for any plant lover.

Ribbon ferns are also popular as houseplants, as they add a touch of greenery and natural beauty to indoor spaces. They are commonly used as decorative accents in homes, offices, and public spaces, and can be displayed in a variety of ways, such as in hanging baskets, terrariums, or as potted plants on shelves and tables.

Aside from their aesthetic and air-purifying qualities, ribbon ferns are also known for their medicinal properties. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including wounds, skin irritations, and digestive issues. Some studies have also suggested that extracts from ribbon ferns may have potential antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory effects.

If you're looking to add a ribbon fern to your collection, they can be found at most nurseries or garden centers, as well as online retailers. When selecting a plant, look for healthy fronds and avoid ones with yellow or brown spots, as these can indicate pest or disease problems.

Once you bring your ribbon fern home, be sure to give it some time to acclimate to its new environment before transplanting or repotting. This will help reduce stress on the plant and improve its chances of success. In addition, keep an eye out for common pests such as mealybugs and spider mites, which can infest ferns if not kept in check.

In summary, ribbon ferns are a beautiful, easy-to-grow plant that can add a touch of elegance and natural beauty to any space. With proper care, they can thrive for years and provide a range of benefits, from air purification to potential medicinal properties. So whether you're an experienced gardener or a beginner, consider adding a ribbon fern to your collection and enjoy the beauty and benefits it has to offer.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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