Maiden hair Fern

Asplenium sp.

Asplenium sp. fern photo © by Michael Plagens

Growing epiphytically on a dead leaning tree in old growth woods. Mt. Kenya Forest Preserve, Kirinyaga, Kenya. 01 June 2017.

Epiphytes are sometimes called "air plants" a reference to their habit of growing not in the soil, but rather anchored to other plants, normally trees, higher in the canopy of the forest where there is more light, but also less water. Special adaptations include tough, anchoring roots or rhizomes to hold fast onto bark and to accumulate some detritus. Epiphytes are also adapted to occasional water scarcity, but are also normally restricted to habitats with higher rainfall and/or humidity. Yet another important adaptation addresses the scarcity or nutrients necessary for plant growth such as phosphorous and nitrogen which would normally be obtained from the soil. This species can form new plants can form when the ends of the long fronds take root.

terminus of frond, Asplenium sp., rooting to form new plant photo © by Michael Plagens

Aspleniaceae -- a Fern Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 24 Oct. 2017.