Plant of the Week: Korean Tassel Fern

Photo by Steven SeveringhausCinnamon-colored tassels edge the fronds of the Korean tassel fern as they first begin to unfurl in the spring. Photo by Steven Severinghaus

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share one of our gardeners’ current favorites with you.

Ferns are beginning to unfurl on the High Line this week. There are several varieties in the park, including the native Adiantum pedatum, or northern maiden hair fern and the very colorful (for a fern) athyrium niponicum var. pictum, Japanese painted fern. One of the most noticeable of the High Line ferns is Polystichum polyblepharum or Korean tassel fern, sending up fiddleheads in the Phillip A. and Lisa Marie Falcone Flyover right now.

This fern’s specific epithet, polyblepharum, means “many eyelashes," in reference to the cinnamon-colored tassels that edge the fronds as they first begin to unfurl in the spring. The tassels disappear as the fronds flatten into dark, glossy, evergreen foliage. Korean tassel fern has a very pleasing symmetrical form, growing in perfect rosettes which, in its native South Korea and Japan, reach up to six feet across. In our climate, this fern grows to a much more manageable two feet wide in shady gardens with rich soil.

Look down on patches of Korean tassel fern from the Falcone Flyover on the High Line between 25th Street and 27th Street.

Download our April Bloom Guide.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line’s most important gardening projects — become a member of Friends of the High Line today!

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