(previously known as Lomaria fluviatilis var. ramosa and Spicanta fluviatilis)
Creek Fern / Kiwakiwa
Māori women would rub crushed fronds of the Creek Fern on their breasts to give them a bitter taste – a means of weaning babies from breast-feeding.
Very few insects attack this fern because it produces a natural insecticide in its fronds.
The Latin word “fluviatile” means “of a river” referring to its preferred habitat.
30cm high x 1m wide. Leafy (sterile) fronds are long and arching, while fertile fronds (bearing the spores) are erect and brown-black. The plant forms a low clumping rosette, eventually developing a low trunk.
Defines a border well, and is a lush groundcover for south-facing sites. Has potential for indoor use were there is a reasonable air flow. Accentuates tree ferns when planted beneath, while also keeping their roots cool.
While Kiwakiwa can handle high light levels, it never likes direct sunlight. Requires a moist situation, but not boggy. Handles shade and cold winters well. Best kept sheltered from high wind or coastal conditions. Water during hot periods, and trim off dead fronds as required.