|Davallia fejeensis rhizomes up close|
|Notice the shallow pot.|
Rabbit's foot, bear's paw, kangaroo paw, green worm. What do all these names have in common? They all describe types of "footed" ferns. The "feet" are really rhizomes that creep and crawl across the top of the soil surface, sometimes even covering and surrounding the pot. Of course, they may be crawling across rocks or some other surface. I had a rabbit's foot fern on a Hawaiian rock, but it unfortunately contracted a horrible case of scale and now resides in the trash. These ferns are quite susceptible to scale. They can be treated, but I decided it wasn't worth risking my other plants, and so got rid of it.
My rabbit's foot fern looks the best of the four types of these ferns I have. It is in a shallow container, and that is all the soil it needs. The rhizomatous ferns have shallow root systems. They creep along the ground or over rocks in their native habitats. They will all thrive in moderate to bright light. Mine are in an East window and are doing well. Obviously from the picture, you can see the kangaroo paw fern isn't doing quite as well. It looked great when I bought it, but has gone down hill since. I've re-potted it and am hoping it turns around.
|Top view of rabbit's foot fern|
These ferns come from South East Asia, Japan, and Australia. The rabbit's fern comes from Fiji, thus the botanical name. They can be epiphytic or terrestrial, they like high humidity and bright, filtered light, and need well-drained soil. Never let them dry out too much. I have done that to my caterpillar fern and it loses some leaves, but comes back just fine. Of course, I don't recommend this, but I think the rhizomes hold an extra amount of moisture, and this feature has saved my plant more than once. They really want to stay evenly moist. They are great plants for hanging baskets, as their "feet" can be seen better from below. I have mine on plant stands, so they are visible.
They are able to be propagated quite easily. They can be separated or started from a piece of rhizome. Cut a piece of rhizome away from the plant, making sure it has a frond attached to it. Lay the rhizome on top of the soil surface and pin it down to the soil to keep it upright. Keep it moist and it should root and take off creeping across the soil in no time.
|Caterpillar fern~Polypodium formosanum|
|Top view of Polypodium formosanum|
|Polypodium formosanum up close|
|Kangaroo Paw~ Microsorium diversifolium|
These pictures of the bear's paw fern, are from Phipp Conservatory. My plant is young, and the rhizomes aren't very prominent, so I used these pictures instead. The Phipp Conservatory is a wonderful place, by the way. I didn't have much time there, but could have spent all day.
|Bear's paw fern~ Aglaomorpha meyeniana|
|Bear's paw fern at Phipp Conservatory in Pittsburgh|