In The Garden
Few pests bug water-loving native fern
Description: Medium-size ferns about 2 feet tall with light green fronds and creeping rhizomes (stems). Each frond comprises 20 or so pairs of pinnae, or smaller, evenly spaced frondlets. The rhizomes are covered in brown hairs. Overall, this is an attractive fern that has the potential to be a great addition to the landscape industry.
This fern, unlike most ferns, is normally found in wet marshy areas like Kawainui or on the margins of estuaries and streams. It is an indigenous fern found on all the larger Hawaiian islands as well as throughout the Pacific and tropical Asia.
Cultural uses: The fronds, more specifically the pinnae, are used to produce beautiful leis, sometimes with other types of plants woven in.
Landscape use and care: Neke looks great kept in a pot and placed in a water feature, or as an accent plant around other landscape features. Full sun and regular watering are ideal for this plant to look its best. You can also plant it in an area that stays wet -- for instance, at the opening of a downspout.
Few pests seem to bother this plant, making it an even better candidate for your garden. Right now, you can purchase this one-of-a-kind plant at Home Depot for about $6, a good price for a fern that is rarely available.
Also: Like many native plants, neke has been in Hawaii for centuries, yet it is rarely used, if it all, in landscapes -- even though it looks great and can be applied to so many different areas. It's an example of how native plants that thrive well in the garden could be used to enhance landscapes and reduce their risk of becoming extinct.
co-owns Hui Ku Maoli Ola, a native Hawaiian plant nursery, with Matt Schirman. Contact him at 295-7777 or e-mail Rick.firstname.lastname@example.org