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 contrast to other ferns, this species contains no toxic carcinogens and is often consumed as an ingredient in medicinal tea. It can also be turned into a lotion that can aid in the relief of snake bites, cuts, or bruises.