Phymatosorus diversifolius

Common Name: kangaroo fern 
Type: Fern
Family: Polypodiaceae
Native Range: Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-10 where it is easily grown outdoors in evenly moist, well-drained soils in part shade. Indoor houseplants do best in a well-drained potting soil in bright indirect sun-dappled areas of the home. Avoid direct sun. Likes humidity, but performs better in drier air than most species of fern. Propagate by rhizome division or spores. Prefers temperatures in the 70s F. from spring to fall and in the 60s F. in winter. Indoor plants dislike temperatures that dip below 50 degrees F.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Phymatosorus diversifolius, commonly known as Kangaroo paw fern or hound’s tongue fern, is an epiphytic fern with rhizomatous creeping and climbing branches. Where winter hardy, it will spread indefinitely along the ground to form an excellent ground cover rising to 12” tall but spreading to 2-3’ wide. It will also climb up walls and tree trunks, cover rocky areas, droop gracefully from hanging baskets or densely fill containers. It is commonly grown ornamentally as a ground cover or in pots/containers. It is a footed fern featuring dark glossy green fronds and a green foot with brownish hairs. It is considered to be part of the bear’s paw group. It is native to Australia and New Zealand. Leathery fronds are quite variable in shape and size, ranging from simple entire fronds to 9” long and 1-2” wide to irregularly lobed or deeply pinnatifid fronds to 18” long by 6-9” wide. Sori appear in a single row on frond undersides and are usually slightly sunken.

The name of this fern has been changed a number of times over the years. Prior names (now synonyms) include Microsorum pustulatum, Phymatodes diversifolium, Phymatosorus pustulatum, Polypodium billardieri, and Polypodium diversifolium.

Specific epithet means diversely leaved.

Common name of kangaroo paw fern is in reference to the shape of the fronds (one frond form resembles the footprint of a kangaroo).

Common name of hound’s tongue is in reference to the purported resemblance of the entire simple frond to the drooping tongue of an out-of-breath hound.


No serious insect or disease problem. Watch for slugs, snails, scale and aphids.


Where winter hardy, it forms an interesting ground cover. Both indoor and outdoor plants are often grown in containers or hanging baskets.