Davallia canariensis

Common Name: hare's foot fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Davalliaceae
Native Range: Western Mediterranean to Atlantic Islands
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 where it is best grown in moist, organically rich, but well-drained soils in part shade. Thrives in soils containing coarse leaf mold, moss, bark, sharp sand, charcoal or pine needles. Prefers bright indirect light and high humidity. This is a tropical plant that dislikes temperatures that dip below 50 degrees F. Avoid direct sun. Water regularly during the growing season, but reduce water slightly from fall to late winter. Propagate by division of rhizomes, but since rhizome-creeping is desired, plants should be infrequently divided. Also may be propagated by spores. Plants are totally intolerant of frost.

In St. Louis, this fern is best grown indoors as a houseplant in pots or hanging baskets in a humid environment in bright shade locations. This is a shade loving or at least shade tolerant fern. It loves frequent watering and frequent misting. Best indoor locations are in north facing or east facing windows. Avoid direct sunlight. As a houseplant, the rhizomes will cover the surface in the hanging basket or container, will root down into the potting mixture, and will also cascade over the edge of the container in an often attractive manner. Never allow the rhizomes to dry out. Minimum temperature in winter is 50 degrees F. Avoid over fertilization.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Davallia canariensis, commonly known as hare’s foot fern, Canary Island hare’s foot fern, or deer’s foot fern, is an epiphytic evergreen fern with triangular fronds that spread to as much as 20” long on brown scaly-covered rhizomes covered with a fine mat of hairs. This fern is native to the western Mediterranean from southwestern Europe to Northwestern Africa and west in the Atlantic Ocean to the Canary Islands off Morocco. In the wild, it grows well on tree bark or along rocky surfaces. Fronds grow to 1.5’ long to 1’ wide. Each frond will divide to 3 or 4 pinnae which subdivide into many pinnules. The fuzzy ground-level rhizomes reportedly resemble animal feet, hence the “foot fern” part of the common name.

Genus name honors Edmond Davall (1763-1798), Swiss botanist of English origin.

Specific epithet means of the Canary Islands.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for scale, aphids, mealybugs, and white fly. Botrytis and aerial blights may occur.

Uses

Grows well indoors in hanging baskets as a potted houseplant.