Bolbitis Water Fern (Heudelotii)

The name ‘heudelotii’ means ‘water fern’. This species is native to West Africa.

They are very small plants with a slender stem, which usually grows up to 2 feet tall. These plants have long stems and tend to grow in clusters or tufts around trees and shrubs.

Water ferns are often used as houseplants because they are easy to keep clean and do not require much maintenance. They need little light but will thrive under bright indirect sunlight.

They prefer moist soil and can tolerate dry conditions if given enough space. They like full sun but can survive partial shade provided it is well drained. Water ferns are drought tolerant and can live through periods of heavy rain.

They are considered one of the most attractive tropical succulents due to their striking foliage coloration. They have no leaves, instead producing tiny white flowers from which they get their common name.

The flowers are edible and delicious when eaten raw or cooked.

Water ferns are very popular aquarium plants. They are often grown in decorative jugs, jars, or vases.

They are grown in shallow containers with adequate holes for water to drain out. They can be suspended above a body of water (like a fish tank) so that they are partially submerged.

They prefer indirect sunlight or bright light and need regular watering. They are great for offices or homes as they help purify the air.

They make great decoration around pools.

Bolbitis heudelotii is a very easy plant to grow. They are grown in water, requiring regular watering and partial submersion.

They can also be grown in moist, well drained soil. They can survive long droughts but will grow faster if watered regularly. It has large fern-like leaves with vivid green coloring. The stems can be a metallic blue or purple when given enough light. It has small white flowers that bloom early in the morning.

Bolbitis Water Fern: Growing African Water Ferns - Image

They can grow up to 2 feet tall and are often grown in decorative glass containers with water. These plants can be difficult to find for sale.

They are not very popular in the gardening community. Bolbitis heudelotii is the most common species available, but other species are beginning to become more readily available. They can be propagated from stem or leaf cuttings.

Water ferns can grow in fresh or salt water. They can also tolerate damp soil if the soil is well drained.

They are considered an invasive species in some areas. The plant can spread rapidly and has a thick rhizome that enables it to survive in dry environments for long periods of time.

These rhizomes have been known to damage property if left unchecked. Large infestations can cause problems with sewage pipes and drainage. If a pipe becomes blocked by a large infestation of water ferns, it can cause sewage to back up and flood nearby homes.

They can grow through soft porous materials like cinder blocks.

In order to control the spread of this species they should be uprooted or sprayed with an herbicide that is safe for aquatic ecosystems.

Bolbitis heudelotii can cause problems with water pipes and drainage. They can clog pipes by growing into them or causing them to crack.

If your home has a recurring plumbing issue it may be bolbitis heudelotii.

Bolbitis Water Fern: Growing African Water Ferns at

They are most common in tropical regions but have been known to spread in warmer temperate areas too.

Water ferns produce oxygen during the day and consume it at night. They do not need much light to survive but will thrive with bright indirect sunlight.

They can grow in murky water but will do better with clean water.

They can grow in soft wet soil, sand, or gravel. They do not grow well in soil that is compacted or excessively dry.

They can be propagated by division, spore, or by seed. They can also be propagated through cuttings, although this is not common and only done by specialist plant nurseries.

These plants are used for medicinal purposes in many tropical countries. The plant is used to treat diabetes, tuberculosis, snake bites, and fungal infections.

It is also used by homeopaths and is believed to be able to prevent malaria.

It has also been shown that this species can increase the rate of photosynthesis in other nearby plants.

The leaves and stems of bolbitis heudelotii are a good fish attractant.

This species has been known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

Bolbitis Water Fern: Growing African Water Ferns - Image

Some internet sources claim that this plant can be poisonous to pets.

Sources & references used in this article:



Phylogeny and character evolution of the bolbitidoid ferns (Dryopteridaceae) by RC Moran, PH Labiak… – … Journal of Plant Sciences, 2010 –

Adaptive strategies of African pteridophytes to extreme environments by J Kornas – Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Section …, 1985 –

Diversity and distribution of ferns in sub‐Saharan Africa, Madagascar and some islands of the South Atlantic by JJ Aldasoro, F Cabezas, C Aedo – Journal of Biogeography, 2004 – Wiley Online Library

The biogeography of species, with special reference to ferns by R Tryon – The Botanical Review, 1986 – Springer

The ferns and the fern-allies of the Sudan by KNG Macleay – Sudan Notes and Records, 1953 – JSTOR

Effect of Growth Regulators on In Vitro Propagation of Bolbitis costata (Wall ex. Hook.) C. Chr. by M UN –



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