Ribbon Fern (Pteris cretica complex), a pantropical brake from Eurasia and Africa, established in an East Melbourne gutter box.
Widely adopted as a cultivated shade and indoor pot plant, this fern was available for sale in Melbourne from the 1870s. It is enjoying a resurgence today as a fern with an urbane and contemporary appearance.
Ribbon Fern has recently been reported in naturalised circumstances in the regions around Sydney, Brisbane and Hobart. The fern has been collected once in Victoria and Melbourne, in 2015 in the drainage of a railway cutting at Heathmont, south of Ringwood. However, it has been recorded in New Zealand from as early as the mid-1800s, and is widely present there on both islands. Naturalised occurrences are also known from California, Mexico and South America, and from Northern Europe, beyond the fern’s restricted presence in the Mediterranean.
The plant found here was sharing this old-format clay brick gutter box with a small colony of Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum sp.) and some Ivy-leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis). We will come back to both Maidenhair ferns and more detail on fern-hosting infrastructure soon, and continue to welcome any and all reports of ferns in unexpected places.