Nephrolepis exaltata (L.) Schott is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of fern. The genus and species were named and described as such by Wilhelm Heinrich Schott in Genera Filicum in 1834. It was first named ad described as Polypodium exaltatum by Carl von Linnaeus in Systema Naturae in 1759.
When I last updated this page in February 2018, Plants of the World Online said the the Nephrolepis exaltata was in the Oleandraceae family. The Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder says it is in the Nephrolepidaceae family and the 2013 version of The Plant List (no longer maintained) says Polypodiaceae family as does Tropicos. That’s weird because Tropicos is part of the Missouri Botanical Garden and they both have different family names… Hmmm… The Wikipedia says it is “in the family Lomariopsidaceae (sometimes in the families Davalliaceae or Oleandraceae, or in its own family, Nephrolepidaceae)”. I am sure I misspelled something. GRIN, which used to be called the Germplasm Resources Information Network now called I am not sure what. All I know it is a Plants Database of the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA. The URL still says GRIN when you do a plant search. ANYWAY, it still says this fern is in the Dryopteridaceae family. Let me see, that makes SIX different families… Dave’s Garden said Polypodiaceae but now they say Nephrolepidaceae
It is certainly not uncommon for a few websites to have different family names with all the polygenetic testing going on. I am not complaining about the testing because it is a necessary thing. BUT SIX DIFFERENT FAMILY NAMES! I have decided not to make light of different websites and databases using different species names because apparently, they can choose which one they want. There are rules to naming and describing plants that should be followed. BUT SIX FAMILY NAMES?!?!? I wonder what the APG group has to say about the family name?
Surely everyone must know what a Boston Fern is and there is really nothing exciting to tell. It is one of the most popular plants available, especially as far as ferns are concerned.
WHERE WAS I? OH YEAH. Nephrolepis exaltata!
Dr. Skinner bought these two ferns from Lowe’s before she passed and I kept them until I moved from Mississippi in February 2013. We had our ups and downs every year as most people do who have overwintered these plants. By the time they start looking AWESOME it is time to bring them inside for the winter. I have been told that “MOST” people don’t bring them in for the winter and just buy new ones in the spring. That is a very good idea…
Family: Polypodiaceae ???
Origin: Confused about that, too.
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-12 (20 TO 50° F) (some say 10a-11b)
Size: 24-36” fronds. Much larger in native habitat.
Light: Part shade
Soil: Well-drained potting mix.
Water: Average water needs but soil needs to be consistently moist.
All winter long you have to keep them sprayed because they need LOTS of humidity. Despite that, they will lose A LOT of their leaves and the dead fronds have to be kept cut out. If you don’t this plant will look like a disaster. Despite all the trouble you may experience overwintering them, they look AWESOME when they do look good.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.