Sunday, December 20, 2009

Carabao Ferns

On the long list of plants that I wish to collect for the garden is a certain elegant species belonging to the fern family - tree ferns.

So when mom and dad were out in search for tree ferns, I thought that's the only thing they'll get. Then they told me they also bought 'carabao ferns', around 20 of them. Apparently the seller told them that these ferns will also grow big, tall and beautiful like tree ferns.

Carabao ferns with new shoots sprouting.

When they told me about the 'carabao ferns', of course I got curious since I've never seen or heard of this kind of fern before. So I surfed the net in the hope of getting a bit more acquainted with this plant species. After a thorough search, I was stumped. I could not find a single result for 'carabao fern'. So I assumed it might be a vernacular name that only the locals use. But since I could not identify this plant my curiosity turned to frustration. What is a 'carabao fern'?

Like the tree ferns, they were delivered bare, all limbs chopped off. Eventually, they sent pictures of the mystery plant. And based on those images, I think I know where it got the name 'carabao fern' from. The base, where the stipules and stems develop resembles a heap of fresh carabao (water buffalo) dung. Hopefully that's not how it got its name.

A whole row of carabao ferns under the row of Mast ('Indian') trees.
So what is a 'carabao fern'? Armed with pictures to compare with, once more I searched the net for anything that could help me identify this plant. And I think I found the answer. I believe 'carabao ferns' and 'giant ferns' (Angiopteris evecta) are one and the same. If not then I'm pretty sure they are closely related.

The seller was right, this is a beautiful, big and tall fern. But the base will not grow tall like tree ferns do, only the fronds grow tall and wide.

Even though now I know that they will never look like tree ferns, I am still satisfied with the purchase of these plants. If they survive, they will grow big and bulky, a great focal point and a unique specimen in a tropical garden landscape.