Asplenium × ebenoides

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: walking spleenwort 
Type: Fern
Family: Aspleniaceae
Native Range: Eastern and southern United States
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: non-flowering
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Heavy Shade


Best grown in medium moisture, well-drained, alkaline to slightly acidic soils in part shade to full shade. Thrives in limestone soils. Shallow, creeping roots need good soil drainage to avoid rot.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Asplenium × ebenoides, commonly called Scott’s spleenwort or dragontail fern, is a naturally occurring hybrid of Asplenium rhizophyllum (walking fern) and Asplenium platyneuron (ebony spleenwort). It is found throughout most of the eastern United States, including Missouri. It almost always grows as a sterile, diploid hybrid, though it is rarely fertile. This is a compact evergreen fern that typically grows in an erect-arching clump to 12” tall. Narrow-lanceolate fronds (6-12” long) with long tapered tips purportedly resemble dragons’ tails, hence one of the common names. Each frond has glossy, narrow-triangular, irregularly-shaped pinnae on the lower half, with the upper half to upper quarter being undivided. This plant is considered rare in Missouri, where it is found in approximately eight counties in the Ozark region in shaded limestone ledges and boulders, often at the foot of limestone bluffs along creeks (Steyermark). Sometimes also called Asplenosorus ebenoides (or × Asplenosorus ebenoides), but this genus (which consists entirely of Asplenium hybrids) is not recognized by many experts.

The genus name Asplenium comes from the Greek and means "without a spleen", possibly in reference to the belief that certain species of this plant could treat problems of the spleen.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs.


Woodland gardens and shade gardens. Good selection for shady areas of limestone rock gardens. Also used in terrariums.