Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Sensitive Fern, Bead Fern

Sensitive Fern, Bead Fern

Onoclea sensibilis

3-4 feet tall by 3-4 feet spread. Part shade to full shade and tolerates heavy shade; wet to medium moisture level; prefers organically rich soil but tolerates clay soils; moderately acid to neutral pH.

Maintenance: Medium

Growth/Colonizing Habit: Spreads by creeping rhizomes and can be aggressive in optimum growing conditions. Can propagate by rhizome division in early spring or fall.

Foliage: Deciduous

Native Region: Statewide

Large, somewhat coarse fern which is good for rain gardens and bog gardens. Allow sufficient space. Can grow in very wet soils as long as there is adequate oxygen. Cannot tolerate sour clay or stagnant water and is sensitive to drought. Very aggressive with sufficient moisture so be cautious when planting. Drier soil will help keep it in check. Occurs naturally in wet woods and thickets and in moist soils along streams and springs. Common name comes from fact that its green fronds are sensitive to and suffer damage from first fall frost. Other common name comes from fact that the stalks of the fern are said to have a decorative appearance. Toxic and sometimes fatal to horses and livestock.


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