Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Whisk Fern

Psilotum nudum. Say it a few times and it will start rolling off the tongue in a fun way.... nudum because the poor plant has no leaves - it is nakkid :-)

Some people call it whisk fern, or skeleton fork fern, I can see the whisk but not the fork. 
I found out it is not a fern but a fern ally resembling a vascular plant just as fossils from millions of years ago. No roots, no flowers, just the tiny yellow round spore cases. And the very few leaves are just as tiny, looking more like thorns than leaves.

This interesting fern showed up pretty much right when we started with our garden. It is not just native to Florida, but can also be found in Africa, Asia, Australia, Hawaii, Japan (looks like it is at home all over the world), and so unusual that I let it grow where ever it popped up, in my hypertufa pots, in shaded flowerbeds, between the rocks in the garden wall.


  1. Es gibt herrliche Pflanzen auf der Welt

  2. I am having problems growing whisk fern indoors. It seems to be dying back. What would you suggest to revitalize the whisk fern. Used in the biology department as demo.

    1. Try to recreate the natural habitat. This fern is a tropical plant, loves the Florida humidity and wants part sun. In my garden it does not grow in wet soil but rather on the dry side of a clay pot or on rocks, like an epiphyte holding on with its fine roots. It wants water, but not sit in it. If you want to try growing it in potting soil, I suggest to treat it like a bromeliad plant.