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walking fern

walking fern (Asplenium rhizophyllum)
Photos © John Hilty

Features and Behaviors

The walking fern has leaves that are green throughout the year. Each single, long, pointed leaf grows out from the rootstock at a central point. A leaf may be about six inches long and one inch wide at the heart-shaped base. The triangular-shaped leaf is tough. It is green above and paler on the underside. The green stipe is short and fat with a brown base.

The walking fern occurs in scattered locations statewide in Illinois. It grows in rocky woods. Spores are produced from May through September. When a leaf tip touches and remains in contact with the ground, a new plant can grow from the tip. The plant can spread in this manner, thus the “walking fern” name.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Order: Polypodiales
Family: Aspleniaceae

Illinois Status: common, native