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Hard Fern, Deer Fern, Ladder Fern, Herring Bone Fern, Snake Fern, Deer Tongue Fern

Blechnum spicant

Family: Blechnaceae
Genus: Blechnum (BLEK-num) (Info)
Species: spicant (SPIK-ant) (Info)
Synonym:Acrostichum spicant
Synonym:Asplenium spicant
Synonym:Lomaria spicant
Synonym:Onoclea spicant
Synonym:Struthiopteris spicant
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Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

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

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

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade



Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:



Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

4.5 or below (very acidic)

4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From spores

Seed Collecting:

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


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

Aliso Viejo, California

El Cerrito, California

Long Beach, California

Orinda, California

Lilburn, Georgia

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Cincinnati, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Portland, Oregon (2 reports)

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Bainbridge Island, Washington

Bellevue, Washington

Bellingham, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Poulsbo, Washington

Shoreline, Washington

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 20, 2015, OlgaT from Orinda, CA wrote:

We have six of the deer tongue fern in our yard in the SF Bay Area. They always topple over and I haven't been able to figure out a way to keep them upright that looks somewhat attractive too. Any ideas anyone?


On Mar 26, 2007, Cretaceous from El Sobrante, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Native to Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington states in the US.

Commonly available in nurseries locally. This fern grows well here in zone 9b.


On Jul 14, 2006, hotlanta from Lilburn, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

This fern definitely likes acid soil and shade. It propagates itself well in my yard, which is constantly trying to revert to the woods from which it was made. This plant does not require any pampering. In fact, it does better if left alone, except to remove any invasive weeds.


On Oct 11, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

Ours were doing OK here but not really flourishing.
I contacted a Hort friend of mine in England and he suggested raising the Acidity.

We augmented our clay native soil first w/ Miracid, then Oak Leaf compost.
They have responded quite well, doubling in size in the next year.

It's a very nice plant that really does give a 4 season show.
The changes in the plant structure, as it goes thru it's yearly cycle, are pretty spectacular.


On Oct 9, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

very attractive and commonly grown fern in the northwest. Here in southern California growing this is a bit tougher as it doesn't like dry, hot weather, but it survives here. Has two completely different leaf shapes as it grows- the vegetative leaves which are shorter and wider, and then during parts of the year, long, thin, tall leaves shoot up far above the others covered with spores on their undersides. AT first I thought one species of fern was growing out of another until I saw that many of these plants looked like that.