IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This is the largest and most adaptable spleenwort in Illinois; the attractive leaves have a delicate appearance. It superficially resembles a small-sized Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern), but the rachis and petiole of the latter fern are light-colored and very scaly. Among the various Asplenium spp. (spleenworts) in Illinois, the most similar species is Asplenium resiliens (Black Spleenwort), which has been called "Little Ebony Spleenwort." Black Spleenwort has smaller leaves (about 4-9" long & ½–1" across) than Ebony Spleenwort, and the ears of its leaflets don't overlap or hide the rachis to the same extent as the eared leaflets of the latter fern. Other similar spleenworts in Illinois have leaflets that lack eared basal lobes and their leaflets are often as wide as long. Furthermore, the mature petioles and rachises of such spleenworts are light-colored (green or yellowish tan) in whole or part. Ebony Spleenwort occasionally hybridizes with other spleenworts when they occur together in the same area.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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