CPC Plant Profile: Wagner's Spleenwort
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Plant Profile

Wagner's Spleenwort (Asplenium X heteroresiliens)

This picture shows the fern in situ. Photo Credit: North Carolina Natural Heritage Program
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Aspleniaceae
  • State: AL, FL, GA, NC, SC
  • Nature Serve ID: 149453
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/06/1993

Asplenium heteroresliens is an evergreen perennial herb member of the Asplenium trichomanes group, with ovate pinnae, and the pinnae in the lower third of the frond somewhat descending and tending to form a low auricle on the posterior side of the base. (Jones-Roe 1982). Carolina spleenwort grows in small depressions on vertical or high angle faces of marl outcrops and soft limestone rock in Coastal Plain habitats from North Carolina to Florida (Jones-Roe 1982; Dunbar 1989). It can produce viable spores asexually (apogamy). The opposite leaflets, which grow on a shiny black rachis, are sharply toothed and leathery with lobes appearing on the upper margin. Carolina spleenwort is thought to be a hybrid between Bicolored Spleenwort (A. heterochroum) and Blackstem Spleenwort (A. reiliens) (Dunbar 1989). It is offered some level of state protection in all states where it is found.

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Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

There are few recent occurrence records, the plants are not abundant, and occurrences are spotty within the range. Taxonomists debate whether this apogamous pentaploid should be treated as a species or as a hybrid. Rare in northern Florida; Florida Natural Areas Inventory currently contains 4 occurrences in its database. It occurs also in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Over-collection could deplete the population. When proposed as candidate '2' by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1993, it was listed as a species, not a hybrid.

  • 01/01/2010

Habitat loss and conversion Loss of canopy Poaching Invasive exotic species (Jones-Roe 1982)

  • 01/01/2010

53 individual crowns were counted at Walker's Bluff, Bladen Co., NC. 1,000 individual crowns were counted at Island Creek, Jones Co., NC. There are ten confirmed populations in NC and less than 20 nationally recorded from three counties in Georgia (Jones-Roe 1982).

  • 01/01/2010

No current research.

  • 01/01/2010

All but two populations occur on private land (Jones-Roe pers. comm. 2001).

  • 01/01/2010

Current monitoring of all populations. Basic ecological and reproductive biology research.

  • 01/01/2010

Spore collection from all populations not represented in collection.


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Taxon Asplenium X heteroresiliens
Authority W.H. Wagner
Family Aspleniaceae
CPC Number 319
ITIS 17347
Common Names Carolina spleenwort fern | Wagner's spleenwort | resilient spleenwort | spleenwort
Associated Scientific Names Asplenium heteroresiliens | Asplenium X heteroresiliens
Distribution Coastal Plain in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida (Jones-Roe 1982).
State Rank
State State Rank
Alabama S1
Florida S1
Georgia S1
North Carolina S2
South Carolina S1

Small depressions on vertical or high angle faces of marl (a mixture of clay, sand, and a calcareous substrate that is soft and crumbly) outcrops in the Coastal Plain (Jones-Roe 1982).

Ecological Relationships

Carolina spleenwort is thought to be a hybrid between A. resiliens and A. heterochroum (Jones-Roe 1982). The habitat where the fern is found is generally a mixture of old-growth hardwoods including Fagus grandifolia and Acer saccharum. The shrub layer is nearly always open with occasional calciphytic shrubs and transgressive canopy species. It is often found in association with caciphytic herbs including Aquilegia canadensis, Decumaria barbara, and sometimes Crysopteris tennesseensis (Jones-Roe 1982). Individual plants are generally short-lived (3-5 years), but populations remain fairly stable from year to year (Jones-Roe 1982).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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