Microsorum scolopendria (Laua'e)

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): 0037
  • Botanical Name: Microsorum scolopendria (syn. Phymatosorus grosus)
  • Common Name: Musk Fern, Maile Scented Fern, Laua'e
  • Cultivar: N/A
  • Family: Polypodiaceae
Microsorum scolopendria 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Native To: Oceana, Tropical Africa, Asia, and Australia 

Landscaping Information

  • Plant Type:  Rhizomatous Fern
  • Texture: Dense
  • Form: Mat
  • Height (on average, in landscape use): 0.5'-1.5'
  • Height to Spread Ratio: irrelevant: spreading groundcover. 
  • Growth Rate: Medium
  • Landscape Values: Border, Filler, Foundation, Framing, Groundcover, Indoor, Lanai, Mass, Patio, Quick Effect, Erosion Control
  • Outstanding Quality: Foliage Characters
Microsorum scolopendria at UH Manoa
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Botanical Descriptions

  • Flowers: None, a non-flowering plant
  • Fruits: None, not a flowering plant.
  • Foliage Color: Young/immature: Yellow Green. Mature: Yellow Green (grown in full sun) to bright medium green to dark green (grown in shade).
  • Foliage Tip: Rounded to Obtuse to Acute
  • Foliage Base: Attenuate
  • Petiole: 0.5"-10"
  • Stipules: N/A
  • Margins: Smooth to Undulate
  • Leaf Arrangement: 1.5"-4" apart
  • Leaf Shape: Young: oblong to ovate Mature: Deeply pinnately lobed 
  • Leaf Type: Pinnately Lobed Frond
  • Leaf Texture: Waxy, glossy, smooth, sori are rough. thin, leathery
  • Leaf Special Notes: sunken, round, rust colored sori on abaxial surface arranged in one to two rows created raised bumps on adaxial surface. Prominent dark brown to black petiole, midrib, and veins.

Microsorum scolopendria rhizome with 2 leaves
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Microsorum scolopendria non-spore bearing leaf (tropophyll) adaxial surface 
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Microsorum scolopendria leaves. Note the adaxial surface of the spore-bearing leaf (sporotropophyll)
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Microsorum scolopendria leaves. Note the abaxial surface of the spore-bearing leaf (sporotropophyll) next to the adaxial surface of the non-spore bearing leaf (tropophyll)
Photo by Matthew Gaston

  • Rhizome: Green with dark brown hairs, triangular to circular shape. Green Rhizomes age to black.
Microsorum scolopendria thicket of living and dead rhizome and leaf bases. Note the green fiddle heads.
Photo by Matthew Gaston

Horticultural Descriptions

  • Light Preference: Shade, Semi-Sun
  • Light Tolerances: Full Sun
  • Soil Preferences: Not Particular, Organic, Moist.
  • Tolerances:  Not Particular, Poor Drainage, Submerged Roots, Compacted Soil, Salt Air, Moderate Winds, Humidity, Regular Watering, Drought, Being Walked Upon. 
  • Water Requirements: moderate watering, does best when provided frequent watering, yet well-draining conditions.
  • Notes on Maintenance: Low maintenance; remove dead fronds to allow more light to reach the rhizome to facilitate new growth. Does well in many conditions making it perhaps overused. 
  • Propagation: Spore, Rhizome division with one to two leaves on the rhizome.
  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 6a
  • Weed Risk Assessment Score (WRA): 6, Evaluate

Most Popular Plants

Bucida buceras 'Variegated' (Dwarf Variegated Geometry Tree)

Graptophyllum pictum (Caricature Plant)

Pseuderanthemum carruthersii var. carruthersii (Variegated False Eranthemum)

Breynia disticha (Snow Bush)

Ficus microcarpa var. crassifolia (Wax Fig)

Ficus triangularis (Triangle Fig)