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Bahama ladder brake
Pteris bahamensis

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

General Landscape Uses: Primarily recommended for natural landscapes and habitat restorations. Also rock gardens.

Ecological Restoration Notes: It can be used as one of many understory herbs in pine rocklands.

Availability: Grown by enthusiasts.

Description: Medium herbaceous fern.

Dimensions: About 1-2 feet in height. Usually taller than broad.

Growth Rate: Moderate.

Range: Monroe County Keys north to St. Lucie and Collier counties; Bahamas. In the Monroe County Keys, apparently disjunct from Miami-Dade County to the pine rocklands of Big Pine Key and nearby islands. Very rare north of the Miami River; perhaps extirpated in Broward and Palm Beach counties, and either never present or extirpated in Martin County.

Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Pine rocklands.

Soils: Moist, well-drained limestone soils, without humus.

Nutritional Requirements: Low; it grows in nutrient poor soils.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: Low; salt wind may burn the leaves.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun to light 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.

Comments: Bahama ladder brake hybridizes with the exotic China brake (P. vittata) forming Delchamps' ladder brake (P. x delchampsii) and is threatened with extinction through hybridization. It is listed as threatened by the state of Florida.

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Lindsay M. Boehner
cultivated plant in South Florida

Copyright by: Lindsay M. Boehner
cultivated plant in South Florida

Other data on Pteris bahamensis available from:

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