Ebony spleenwort looks something like a smaller, more delicate version of Christmas fern, though the two ferns are not closely related. To identify ebony spleenwort, look for a smooth, glossy red-brown petiole (leaf stalk). The fertile fronds grow very erect, while the sterile fronds are shorter and more horizontal.
- Family: spleenwort (Aspleniaceae)
- Habitat: rocky woods
- Height: 15 inches
- Location of spores: underside of fronds (see second photo)
- Petiole (leaf stalk): glossy red-brown, smooth, and brittle
- Growth pattern: asymmetric clump
- Persistence: evergreen
- Origin: native
Underside of a fertile frond, showing the oblong sori (spore-bearing structures).