Giant Leather Fern
Acrostichum danaeifolium

Giant Leather Fern

Giant leather fern is one of our largest native ferns. It is often three feet tall, yet in rich wet soils it can reach 15 feet.

Giant leather fern is found in fresh or brackish marshes from North Central Florida south. Look among mangroves or cypress trees where large colonies can be found. It will often line the edges of canals, rivers and even man made lakes.

The similar, yet more rare mangrove fern, A. aureum is found in coastal areas of Dade County. The spores cover the lower surface of only the upper leaflets compared to all of the leaflets of the Giant Leather Fern.

The soil for giant leather fern must be rich and moist or shallow standing water like this small man made pond. When planted along a lake edge, several weeks of flooding are tolerated when many other plants would drown.

If planted with added organic matter and irrigation, the native giant leather fern can replace tropicals like philodendron. The original plant will sucker and form a large colony, yet can be cut back if too large and the offshoots moved to new locations.

For a wet area of the yard, plant a group of cypress trees, pond apple, sweetbay magnolia, dahoon holly, red maple, buttonbush and a colony of these lush ferns. Swamp fern, prairie iris and golden canna add a nice touch of color.