Whisk Fern, Skeleton Fork Fern, Moa
Psilotum nudum

Family: Psilotaceae
Genus: Psilotum (sy-LOH-tum) (Info)
Species: nudum (NEW-doom) (Info)
Synonym:Lycopodium nudum
Synonym:Psilotum floridanum
Synonym:Psilotum triquetrum
Synonym:Bernhardia antillarum
Synonym:Hoffmannia aphylla

Category:

Perennials

Ferns

Height:

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

Spacing:

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade

Danger:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Inconspicuous/none

Bloom Time:

N/A

Foliage:

Evergreen

Other details:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From spores

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Big Pine Key, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Homestead, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Kailua, Hawaii

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

3
positives
1
neutral
0
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Mar 14, 2008, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

In a sense, this may be the evolutionary grandmother of all vascular plants. With its primitive structure of being all stems, with no leaves nor roots, it may have been one of the first plants to make the move from ocean to land, but there are no fossil records that far back of the Psilotaceae.

I also had trouble growing this plant in my garden soil. I found it did much better after I had it established the Whisk Fern in my greenhouse in a plastic pot, then sunk the pot into the ground without transplanting the Whisk Fern directly into the soil. I have since found the plant around a Mexican Fan Palm in my garden, but it probably came in the pot with the palm at the time I bought the palm. It is often seen as a "weed" in greenhouses.

Jeremy

Neutral

On Mar 25, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I purchased one from an online nursery in mid-December 2006. It was planted in a spot with good light and protection from the elements, but just seemed to slowly dry out.

This plant is native to Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Windward Islands, Gabon, Madagascar, Mauritius, Tanzania, Zambia, Vietnam, and New Caledonia.

Positive

On Jul 20, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I have had Whisk Fern, Psilotum nudum growing in the "boot jacks" of my Sable palm for several years now. The conditions in the bootjacks are ideal for it's survival. Plenty of moisture, light and rich growing medium.
I have been able to remove pieces and grow them im my nursery area.
The plant is a Florida native.

Positive

On Jul 6, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

this is an interesting plant that I found growing in one of my pots a few years ago. Its still going/growing in the pot (Don't know what happened to the plant that was originally in that pot). It's currently nestled in the plant bed under some ginger. get's a moderate amount of sun and frequent water since the ginger needs it. It's greener now with those conditions, was yellow/green before with more sun/less water. Didn't know what it was til I came across info on UH Botony site. Copied (some edits) info from their page below:

Psilophyta. The Psilotaceae are leafless and rootless terrestrial or epiphytic homosporous, protostelic vascular plants comprising 2 genera and less than ten species. The free-living sporophytic plant body is a dichotomously branching stem consis... read more