Basket Fern: Drynaria rigidula
- The fertile fronds of this fern can grow up to one and a half metres long. They were once divided, with the divisions extending to the rachis (the main axis of the lamina).
- The fronds are irregular, leathery and stalk-like with irregularly toothed margins, their spores in a single row on either side of the mid rib (principal vein).
- The nest leaves can be up to 36cm long and 8cm wide.
- Its distribution is Queensland generally, and northern New South Wales from the coast to the ranges and the tablelands.
- The Basket Fern is a very common fern throughout its range that can grow as an epiphyte or lithophyte (on wet rocks).
- These ferns can grow to form large clumps, with fronds of two types on one growth. They have small brown leaves that catch leaf litter from the canopy to provide nutrients and larger leaves at the top to carry the spores.
- The Basket Ferns distinguishing features include the pinnate fertile fronds, and the fleshy rhizome (underground stem) bearing fronds of 2 types.
- They are easily grown in a pot or basket of coarse mixture.
- The Basket Fern forms a micro-habitat of its own as frogs, ants, birds and possums live there and other ferns and plants germinate in the basket.
'Basket fern' or 'Oakleaf Ferns' Drynaria spp. of the family Polypodiaceae have similar habits to the Bird's Nest fern, growing as epiphytes high in trees and catching debris falling down.
Despite their fertile green fronds being much more slight, they still nevertheless catch and retain a lot of debris with quite different looking 'base leaves' that are brown, short and fat.
Basket ferns are common in rainforest in tropical Australia and Asia, but will also grow on rocks in some drier habitats within this range.
Script: Courtesy of Damon Ramsey BSc.(Zool) Biologist Guide