Is Bird’s Nest Fern Toxic to Cats?

Last Updated on January 10, 2022 by Julia Wilson

Is bird’s nest fern toxic to cats?

Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus) is non toxic to cats and is safe to grow in homes or gardens with cats.

What is bird’s nest fern?

  • Family: Aspleniaceae
  • Botanical name: Asplenium nidus
  • Common names: Birds nest fern, Bird’s nest fern, bird’s-nest fern, nest fern, bird’s nest spleenwort, wild birdsnest fern, new world birdsnest fern
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic
  • Toxic parts:
  • Severity: –
  • Toxic principle:

Bird’s nest fern is a species of fern native to tropical Southeast Asia and Australia. It is commonly grown as an indoor houseplant and enjoyed for its unique rosette shape and bright green, shiny fronds with contrasting dark midribs and a ‘bird’s nest’ like centre.

Cultivars

  • Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’: Sword-shaped ruffled leaves
  • Asplenium nidus ‘Osaka’: Narrow, strap-like leaves with rippled edges
  • Asplenium nidus ‘Antiquum’: Wavy leaf-margins
  • Asplenium nidus ‘Victoria’: Long, wavy, tongue-shaped fronds

Care

Bird’s nest ferns prefer indirect sunlight, humidity and plenty of water, especially during the growing season. Avoid covering the centre of the plant in water which can cause rotting and mould. Bird’s nest ferns thrive on high humidity, therefore growing in or near a bathroom and away from drafts is the optimal environment.

Fertilise once a month during the active growing period.

Safety

While bird’s nest fern is non-toxic, fertilisers and pesticides can leech out of the soil when the tree is watered which can pose a danger if the cat drinks the contaminated water (and cats love to drink out of planter trays). Placing pebbles in the tray beneath the plant allows water to safely drain from the pot and reduces the risk of a cat drinking water that has leeched from the pot.

Most cats will ignore bird’s nest fern, but some cats will chew on houseplants. Ingestion of large volumes of plant matter can potentially cause gastrointestinal upset. Remove the plant if necessary, and keep it in a room the cat cannot access, or grow in a hanging pot. Catgrass and catnip are recommended in homes with cats.