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​Rattlesnake Fern - Botrychium virginianum

​Rattlesnake Fern - Botrychium virginianum

Posted by Tammy Sons on 10th Jan 2020

The Rattlesnake Fern is a native plant belonging to the unique Adder's

Tongue family (Ophioglossaceae). With a rhizomatous appearance, this fern

turns from a brilliant green at a young age to a bright yellow when its
spores begin to mature. This fern gets its name from a fertile section of
frond that resembles the rattle of a rattlesnake. Rattlesnake ferns are
often found in rich woodlands with adequate drainage. They tend to be
situated in areas that are dominated by oak trees and hickory trees. At
their maturity, Rattlesnake ferns will emerge to a height of 8 to 30
inches. These plants tend to grow at a moderate rate, flourishing best in
soil environments that consist of a pH between 5.6 and 6.9. Since these
ferns require between 14 to 44 inches of precipitation to thrive, their
active growth period spans from spring to summer. Blooming in late spring,
Rattlesnake ferns are shade tolerant and grow best in partial sun to light
shade conditions. They are commonly used in landscaping in geographic areas
of mesic to dry-mesic conditions. With a single leaf growth pattern that
breaks down into several smaller fronds underneath, the Rattlesnake fern is
ideal for filling in garden beds or landscaping with durable foliage.
Climate Zones between 3 and 10 benefit the most from these ancient plants
that die down in the winter only to return in the spring. Rattlesnake ferns
are also unique in the concept that they do not reproduce often. Therefore,
landscapers must plant the exact number of plants that they desire to
utilize for ground cover. In contract to other ferns, this species contains
no toxic carcinogens and is often consumed as an ingredient in a medicinal
tea. It can also be turned into a lotion that can aide in the relief of
snake bites, cuts, or bruises.

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