10 Plants That Look Like Ferns But Are Not

African Violets

These plants can create the same aesthetic as ferns but without the high maintenance of caring for ferns. The Jacaranda tree, known as Jacaranda mimosifolia, is a tropical tree bearing clusters of scented purple blossoms in panicles. Its fern-like leaves make it a great shade for your home.

Sweet Fern

Despite its name, Sweet Fern is not actually a fern but a deciduous shrub. It is the only extant (living) species in the genus Comptonia. The leaves of the plant are linear to lanceolate, 3–15 cm long and 0.3–3 cm broad, with a lobed margin; they give off a sweet odor, especially when crushed.

For more information read the article 10 Plants That Repel Earwigs

The common name is sweet fern or sweet-fern (although it is not a fern), or in Quebec, comptonie voyageuse. The genus Comptonia is named in honor of Rev. Henry Compton (1632-1713), bishop of Oxford. The species name peregrina literally means one that travels.

Sweet Fern

Astilbes

Astilbes are one of the easiest perennial flowers to grow. They have long-blooming, plume-like flowers in soft shades of white, pink, purple, and red, and the flowers are held on tall, stiff stalks above the airy foliage. Virtually pest-free and very low maintenance, they can light up the shade garden or soften a sunny spot.

Astilbes are clump-forming perennials that belong to the saxifrage family and arise from a stout rootstock. The upright stems bear fern-like green foliage and feathery plumes extending above the foliage in shades of pink, red, purple, or white.

Astilbes

Fern Leaf Begonias

This is a rare and beautifully unique species native to New Guinea. It’s named the “Fern Leaf Begonia” for its twice-pinnate growth pattern that creates a wonderful fern-like texture. The plant has deep crimson stems and leaf undersides, along with dark – almost metallic – green leaf tops.

It’s known to need high temperatures and humidity to thrive, which makes them great terrarium plants. However, they’re particularly sensitive to watering and can be inclined to drop leaves at a moment’s notice. This plant species is arguably more suited for the experienced terrarium grower.

Fern Leaf Begonias

Sumacs

Sumac is any of about 35 species of flowering plants in the genus Rhus and related genera in the cashew family (Anacardiaceae). Sumacs grow in subtropical and temperate regions throughout every continent except Antarctica and South America. Sumacs are identified by their fern-like pinnate leaves, conical clusters (panicles) of white or green flowers, and fuzzy red berries.

In the fall, sumac trees and shrubs turn brilliant autumn shades of red, orange, or purple. Sumacs propagate both by seed (spread by birds and other animals through their droppings), and by new shoots from rhizomes, forming large clonal colonies.

Sumacs

Fern Leaf Wattle Trees

This is a shrubby tree that falls within the legume family and is native to eastern Australia. It’s commonly known as the fern-leaved wattle. The plant has compound leaves that resemble fern fronds and produces spherical heads of yellow or bright yellow flowers from autumn to late spring. It’s a common and widespread species, especially on the coast and tablelands of New South Wales.

The leaves are compound with a petiole 7–23 mm long with between one and five prominent glands. The rachis of the leaf is usually 40–120 mm long with irregularly scattered glands and usually five to fourteen pairs of pinnae which are 30–80 mm long.

Fern Leaf Wattle Trees

Royal Poinciana Trees

Also known as the flame tree, flamboyant, peacock flower, gold mohair, or royal flame tree, the Royal Poinciana is a fast-growing evergreen tree that features an abundance of crimson blossoms. This African native is a favorite in many tropical and subtropical locations. The foliage on this species is a bipinnately compound, meaning that each leaf consists of up to 25 pairs of leaflets, and each of those leaflets is further divided into up to 25 more pairs of leaflets.

This tree is renowned worldwide for its clusters of exquisite red flowers that blanket the tree in the warm summer months. Each of the five petals is reddish-orange or scarlet. One petal is bigger than the others and has yellow and white markings. The fruit is a seed pod that can be over a foot long. The tree prefers frost-free areas, generally USDA hardiness zones 9b–114. It’s highly tolerant of both drought and salt. There are no major pest or disease problems.

Royal Poinciana Trees

Blue Jacaranda

This is a sub-tropical tree native to South America, particularly Argentina and Bolivia. It’s known for its attractive and long-lasting violet-colored flowers. The tree grows to a height of up to 20 m (66 ft) and its bark is thin and grey-brown, smooth when the tree is young but eventually becoming finely scaly. The flowers are up to 5 cm (2 in) long, and are grouped in 30 cm (12 in) panicles. They appear in spring and early summer, and last for up to two months.

They are followed by woody seed pods, about 5 cm (2 in) in diameter, which contain numerous flat, winged seeds. The blue jacaranda is cultivated for the sake of its large compound leaves, even in areas where it rarely blooms. The leaves are up to 45 cm (18 in) long and bi-pinnately compound, with leaflets little more than 1 cm (0.4 in) long.

Blue Jacaranda

Clubmoss

Clubmosses are primitive vascular plants that look like miniature pines or cedars spreading over the forest floor. They evolved around 410 million years ago, even before higher plants and dinosaurs appeared on earth. Today, modern species only grow inches tall, but their ancestors grew as tall as 135 feet.

Clubmosses are members of an ancient group of plants that included the tree-like lepidodendrons that dominated the world in the Carboniferous period, some 320 million years ago. These trees and mosses died and fossilised to become the coal we use for fuel today. Clubmosses are also known to have a large collection of unique alkaloids.

Clubmoss

Japanese Fern Tree

Despite its name, the Japanese Fern Tree is not a fern but a tree. It’s most easily recognizable for its odd foliage—its leaves are long and thin and protrude from the stems in a fern-like manner, which gives the tree its common name. The tree’s fern-like leaves are packed together tightly, giving the tree a dense and beautiful crown that provides good shade.

As the tree ages, it steadily expands outward to achieve a wonderful bulbous shape, eventually blooming with small, inconspicuous white flowers. The fern tree is best planted in early fall and is a fairly slow grower (adding about 12 inches a year) that doesn’t require trimming or much effort on your end. Once planted in the right area, it will slowly expand over the years to a maximum of about 25 feet.

Japanese Fern Tree

Fern Pine Columnar Trees

Commonly known as Fern Pine, this tree is a conifer with long, narrow leaves. The Fern Pine grows upright without the need for added support and requires a large space in which to grow. The trunk is rounded and the tree itself can reach a maximum size of between 50 and 65 feet vertically and 2 to 3 feet in diameter. The tree’s foliage is classified as evergreen. While the leaves may vary in shade, their color will remain green. The tree is taller than wide and has a dense foliage of thin spear-shaped leaves.

The leaves of the Fern Pine grow in clusters and have an irregular growth pattern, each leaf can grow up to 4 inches in length. The bark is fine and scaly, starting out a reddish brown that turns to light grey as the tree matures. The twigs of the tree are long and skinny, droop at the tip, and produce small pointed buds.

Fern Pine Columnar Trees

About Christopher Evans

Hello, I'm Chris, the green-thumbed Founder of PotGardener.com. I'm passionate about bringing the beauty of nature indoors through houseplants and indoor gardening. Let's create healthier and more beautiful living spaces, one plant at a time!

View all posts by Christopher Evans →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *