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 Weather Station

Products > Blechnum occidentale
Blechnum occidentale - Hammock Fern

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Fern
Family: Blechnaceae (~Polypodiaceae)
Origin: Chile (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: NA
Bloomtime: Not Significant
Synonyms: [Blechnum appendiculatum]
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): High Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Blechnum occidentale, Hort. [Blechnum appendiculatum] - (Hammock Fern) - This fern spreads by creeping rhizomes and grows to 12 to 18 inches tall. The leathery 3 inch wide by 18 inch long fronds are divided into 12-28 segments on both sides of the midrib. New foliage in spring is a bronzy-pink to salmon-pink color that then ages to a medium green color as the fronds also become more leathery. This fern appreciates good drainage and regular irrigation to look its best but gets by and is still quite attractive with only an occasional watering in coastal gardens. Root hardy to at least 20 F - this plant was not harmed in our garden during the December 1990 freeze at temperatures around 18 F. New foliage shows best when older fronds are trimmed to the ground, weed whipped or even mowed if the patch is big enough, in late fall to early winter. A great plant for the woodland garden look and pinkish new growth adds color to the typical green of a shade garden. The spread on this plant is slow, only a few inches to a half foot per year, but in time a large bed can be densely covered, making an incredible show in the spring. This plant has long been identified as Blechnum occidentale, a species native to South America, Mexico and the west Indies but our material, and most in the nursery trade grown as Blechnum occidentale is actually Blechnum appendiculatum, which is native to southeastern US through the American tropics. Barbara Joe Hoshizaki and Robbin C. Moran noted in their Fern Grower's Manual (Timber Press, 2001) that "Blechnum appendiculatum greatly resembles Blechnum occidentale, and cultivated plants have long been misidentified as that species. Blechnum appendiculatum differs, however, by being hairy on the rachis underside.". It was previously also known as Blechnum occidentale var. minor. The name for the genus comes from the Greek word 'blechnon', an ancient name for ferns and the specific epithet is from the Latin word ' appendicula' meaning "appendages" with 'atum', the suffix meaning "likeness" or "with" that is thought to refer to the short glandular hairs on the leaf rachis. The older epithet comes from the Latin 'occidens' meaning "the west" or "sunset" with the suffix 'alis' meaning "of" or "pertaining to" in reference to this plant being native to the west or New World. We continue to list this outstanding plant as Blechnum occidentale, the name we used since we first started growing it in 1990, but with the notation "Hort." after it to indicate that this is an invalid name that is used in horticulture. Our thanks to Bernard Acquistapace of Pinata Bella Nursery for first providing this plant to us.  The information on this page is based on our research that has been conducted on this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, and from observations made of the crops growing in the nursery, plants in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens where we have observed it. We also have incorporated comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing Blechnum occidentale.