Wildflowers of the United States

Home Journal Family Index - All States Photo Albums News About Privacy

Walking Fern, American Walking Fern - Asplenium rhizophyllum


Family: Aspleniaceae – Spleenwort family Genus Common Name: Spleenwort Native Status: Native
Asplenium rhizophyllum - Walking Fern, American Walking Fern. There are 28 Spleenworts - the species in the Asplenium genus - found in the United States. Most of these have pinnatifid leaves. Asplenium rhizophyllum is one of the 3 species without those pinnatifid leaves. It is unique in the United States and with an Asian sister plant (A. ruprechtii) are distinctive in the genus in that the leaftips will root, forming sometimes dense clonal patches of the plant. This feature has led some authorities to classify those two species in their own genus, Camptosorus, so a synonym for this plant is Camptosorus rhizophyllus. The plant typically grows in shady areas on mossy boulders and ledges.

This plant is considered rare in much of its range, and enjoys protection in several states (MI, NH, NY, RI, and, I think, NC.) It is protected and possibly extirpate in Maine.

Found in:
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV

Distribution of Asplenium rhizophyllum in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 16 Sep 2014). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Search Our Database of Species
Enter any portion of the Scientific
or Common Name (or both)

Scientific name:
Common name:

Example: Enter "lob" in the common name field and you'll get all our species that have "lobelia" in the common name, as well as "sharp-lobed hepatica".

Do a general Google search of the entire site:




Follow on Twitter
Follow USWildflowers on Twitter


Site: Virgin Falls State Natural Area, TN Date: 2013-March-08Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Asplenium rhizophyllum is a fern with simple, but very interesting leaves. They are a medium to dark green, and may be slightly pubescent. The shorter leaves are generally sterile.
Asplenium rhizophyllum

Site: The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-March-16Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves of Walking Fern are usually slightly undulate, with bases that are cordate, hastate, or auriculate. The fertile leaves are extremely elongated, and the tips of the leaves will root, forming a new plant. This allows the plant to “walk” - spreading itself vegetatively on these long, spindly legs - leaf tips.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Asplenium rhizophyllum

References used for identification and information:

Looking for Wildflowers for a specific state? Check here:



All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2014
Photographs Copyrighted by the named photographer