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Golden leather fern
Acrostichum aureum

Copyright by: Sally Channon, August 2015
In habitat, Juno Dunes Natural Area
Palm Beach County, Florida, USA; Enlarge

General Landscape Uses: A large accent fern in wet areas along the coast. It is especially useful along the edges of brackish or saltwater ponds and marshes.

Ecological Restoration Notes: A somewhat uncommon understory element of tidal swamps and marshes.

Availability: Grown by enthusiasts.

Description: Large shrub-like herbaceous fern with ascending or arching fronds. Fronds to about 6 feet long.

Dimensions: Typically 4-6 feet in height. As broad as tall or broader, but often growing in large masses.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Monroe County Keys north along the coasts to Palm Beach and Manatee counties; West Indies and widely distributed in the New and Old World tropics. Very rare and scattered in the Monroe County Keys and perhaps absent from the middle Keys.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

 Map of suggested ZIP codes from South Florida north to southern Brevard, Osceola, Polk, and Pasco counties.

 Map of ZIP codes with habitat recommendations from the Monroe County Keys north to Martin and Charlotte counties.

Habitats: Tidal swamps and marshes; sinkholes in rockland hammocks.

Soils: Wet to moist, poorly-drained to inundated organic brackish soils.

Nutritional Requirements: High; requires rich organic soils for optimal growth.

Salt Water Tolerance: Moderate; tolerates brackish water or occasional inundation by salt water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Moderate; grows near salt water, but is protected from direct salt spray by other vegetation.

Drought Tolerance: Low; requires moist to wet soils and is intolerant of long periods of drought.

Light Requirements: Light shade to moderate shade.

Flower Color: N/A.

Flower Characteristics: There are no flowers; the plants reproduce by spores.

Flowering Season: All year.

Fruit: Inconspicuous spores.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grown from spores. Small plants can be transplanted.

References: A Gardener's Guide to Florida's Native Plants.

Comments: This is the less common of our two native species of Acrostichum. It can be distinguished from A. danaeifolium by its shorter fronds and more separated pinnae (leaflets). It is listed as threatened by the state of Florida.

Copyright by: Sally Channon, August 2015
In habitat, Juno Dunes Natural Area
Palm Beach County, Florida, USA; Enlarge

Copyright by: Keith Bradley

Copyright by: Jay Horn

Copyright by: Keith Bradley

Copyright by: Jay Horn

Other data on Acrostichum aureum available from:

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