Phlebodium pseudoaureum

blue rabbit's foot fern


Phlebodium pseudoaureum

(Cav.) Lellinger 1987

pronounced: fleb-OH-dee-um sue-doh-or-REE-um

(Polypodiaceae — the fern family)


common name: blue rabbit's foot fern

Phlebodium is from the Greek φλεβωδης (phlebodés), full of veins, referring to the numerous veins on the fronds; pseudoaureum is a hybrid word, from the Greek ψευδο– (pseudo-), false, and the Latin aureus, golden, and may refer to the fuzzy rhizomes from which the plant emerges. This fern was formerly a member of the Polypodium genus, but was removed over reproduction issues.

It is native to most regions of Mexico, the Caribbean islands, Central America, and, in South America, to French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina. It is also found on the Galapagos Islands.

The fern grows to about 30 cm, with evergreen, glaucous grey, deeply lobed pinnatifid fronds that emerge from fuzzy red rhizomes close to the surface of the ground. The fronds are evergreen, and persist for between a year and two years. Although reckoned to be more of a terrestrial fern, it will grow as an epiphyte: the plants photographed are growing on the trunks of Phoenix palms, and seem quite happy there. The fern appreciates a humid, moderately wet environment, but not sogginess. The ones growing as epiphytes here are watered by sprinklers designed to water the lawns in the park. They also appreciate the air flow their position affords. This is a moderately slow grower, and will eventually send out rhizomes that will bud new ferns. When kept in ideal conditions, it can spread right throughout a tropical vivarium, and may need to be pruned. When grown in the garden, it prefers a sloping site, in bright light shade. These ferns are also very suitable for use as container plants. The fronds are used as cut foliage in flower arrangements.

The sori are borne on the underside of the fronds, in lines parallel to the midrib.

In some traditional Mexican medicines, the stems are used to make a tea for the treatment of several renal diseases.


Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.


Photographs taken in Picnic Bay 2014
Page last updated 10th March 2019