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Leatherleaf Fern

Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality

Michael S. Reid

Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis

Maturity & Quality


Rumohra adiantiformis. By far the most popular cut foliage for use in arrangements, with year-round availability and good display life. Leatherleaf fern is grown in shade-houses under sub-tropical conditions. The specific epithet adiantiformis indicates the similarity to the fronds of Adiantum, the maidenhair fern. The Greek "adianton" means unwettable - a reference to the fact that fern fronds shed water. It is probably the most commonly used floral green.

Quality Indices

Avoid wilted or yellow fronds.

Grading and Bunching

Leatherleaf fern is typically bunched in 25’s. There are no formal grade standards, but frond length, and freedom from damage or blemishes are obvious quality criteria.

Ethylene Sensitivity

Leatherleaf fern is not sensitive to ethylene.


Dipping bunches in ice water is sometimes used to accelerate cooling prior to packing. Pre-treatment with antitranspirants, including emulsified oils, has been shown to increase display life.

Storage Conditions

Leatherleaf fern should be stored at 1-6°C. Packing Because of the water associated with postharvest handling of leatherleaf ferns, they are normally packed in wax-impregnated cartons.

Special Considerations

Frond curl or postharvest wilt is a disorder that occurs more frequently from July to November. The precise cause of this disorder is not known and it cannot be prevented at grower, wholesale, or retail levels. Water stress can make the frond curl worse; however, leatherleaf is very tolerant to water stress conditions when frond curl is not a problem. The use of some postharvest antitranspirant (wax-type) dips can enhance vase life but does not reduce frond curl. Dipping leatherleaf in plain tap water can reduce vase life. The brown bumps (sporophores, or sori) found on the back of some leaves (fronds) have no detrimental effect on life.


October 2004

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The information in this fact sheet represents our best understanding of the current state of knowledge at the time of the latest update, and does not represent an exhaustive review of all research results. Links to any of these UC Postharvest Technology Center pages are permitted, but no endorsement of the linking site or products mentioned in the linking page is intended or implied by such a link.

How to Cite

Author(s) names. Initial publication or update date (located at the top). Title. Link to the specific Produce Fact Sheet webpage (Accessed date)

Example: Cantwell, M. and T. Suslow. 2002. Lettuce, Crisphead: Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality. (Accessed January 18, 2014).

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