Marattia

Family: Marattiaceae

Distributed throughout the tropics, this genus comprises around 60 species of ferns. They have large, fleshy rhizomes, resembling those of Monstera, and thick, waxy stalks. The large fronds are bipinnate to tripinnate, and the coarse, fleshy, waxy leaflets are shiny on top and duller below. These ferns are unlikely to be available to home gardeners.

Species

M. salicina, potato fern, is native to north-east Queensland in Australia, Norfolk Island, New Zealand and the South Pacific. It is also known as horseshoe fern, king fern and para. In the wild, it thrives in very damp, shaded rainforest situations. The rhizomes have many thick, waxy roots and thick, fleshy, upright to drooping stems, swollen at the base. The arching, glossy, green fronds are very attractive and grow to 4 m (13 ft) long.

Cultivation

Outside the tropics, this fern will grow only in a warm, humid greenhouse. Propagate M. salicina from a mature, tuberous growth obtained from the base of a fully grown plant. Place in a pot with the rhizome
top protruding just above the soil surface. Keep reasonably damp. The tuber may take around two years to grow. In protected situations, the growth rate will be reasonable after the first frond appears. Move to its permanent position when the pot is outgrown. This fern needs considerable space to develop. Although it produces spores, propagation from these is difficult if not impossible, .

Climate

Tropical only. Warm, humid conditions are required.

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