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Swamp fern, Toothed midsorus fern
Blechnum serrulatum

Copyright by: George D. Gann

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. Also useful as an accent groundcover along pond and lake edges and other moist to wet sites. Identified by Fair Child Tropical Botanic Garden as a native that does especially well in shade in this brochure.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A relatively common understory herb in freshwater swamps throughout South Florida; occasional in freshwater marshes, prairies and wet hammocks.

Availability: Native plant nurseries.

Description: Medium to large herbaceous fern with erect fronds.

Dimensions: Typically 2-4 feet in height. Spreading from underground stems (rhizomes) and forming large, sometimes very dense, patches.

Growth Rate: Fast.

Range: Florida from the Panhandle south to Miami-Dade County and the Monroe County mainland; West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Swamps, marshes, wet prairies and wet hammocks.

Soils: Wet to moist, poorly-drained to moderately well-drained organic soils.

Nutritional Requirements: High; requires rich organic soils for optimal growth.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.

Light Requirements: Light shade to moderate shade or full sun.

Flower Color: N/A.

Flower Characteristics: There are no flowers; the plants reproduce by spores.

Flowering Season: All year.

Fruit: Inconspicuous spores.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from division and spores.

References: Nelson 2003

Comments: An excellent understory fern in a wide variety of wet situations, but can spread aggressively in the right conditions. See a 2018 post on the Treasure Coast Natives blog on three wet and dry adaptations of the swamp fern.

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Susan Trammell

Copyright by: George D. Gann

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Other data on Blechnum serrulatum available from:

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