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Comparison between macho fern vs. boston fern

Comparison Between Macho Fern Vs. Boston Fern

What is the difference between macho fern vs Boston fern and how can you easily tell them apart from their physical features.

These two plants have a similar growth habit and they both come in a variety of colors and sizes.  These are very popular ferns that most plant lovers grow on their gardens, porches, or patios. Here we compare the two varieties of ferns – the Boston fern and the macho fern.

There are two types of ferns, macho fern, and Boston fern.  Macho ferns have long, pointy spines that are generally longer than 1 inch.

What Is The Difference Between Macho Fern Vs. Boston Fern

Boston fern and macho fern are both types of fern. Though they belong to the same class of ferns, they have their differences that we will look at here. These differences include:

  • The Growth Rate: Macho fern grows slowly. It takes about 7 years to reach full maturity. Boston fern, on the other hand, grows faster and reaches full maturity in just 4 years.

  • The Growth Habit: Boston fern has a spreading growth habit while macho fern tends to be more upright.

  • The Leaf Shape: Boston fern has a more rounded shape while macho fern has an elongated shape. Boston fern leaves have a flat shape. On the other hand, macho fern leaves are more rounded. Macho ferns are taller than Boston ferns. Macho ferns are much harder than Boston ferns. Macho ferns have a smoother, shinier feel than Boston ferns.

  • The Leaf Arrangement: Boston fern grows on single stalks, while macho fern grows on long, horizontal, leafy fronds.

  • The Leaf Size: Boston fern leaves are smaller than macho fern leaves. They are also more deeply cut.

  • The Color Of The Leaf: Boston fern has a dark green color. Macho fern is usually yellowish-green in color. So if you are looking to grow green ferns, you will be growing the Boston fern.

  • The Leaf Margin: The leaf margins of Boston fern are usually serrated while macho fern has smooth margins.

  • The Texture Of The Leaf: Boston fern leaves are rough while macho fern leaves are smooth.

  • Shape.  Macho fern has a more rounded shape than Boston fern. Macho ferns are taller than Boston ferns. Macho ferns are much harder than Boston ferns. Macho ferns have a smoother, shinier feel than Boston ferns.

  • Size.  Macho fern grows taller than Boston fern. Macho can grow up to 20 feet tall while Boston fern grows only about 12 inches tall.  Macho reach their maturity size at about two years old while Boston fern reaches its mature size at four years old.

  • Leaves Macho Fern Vs. Boston Fern. Macho fern has wider leaves than Boston fern. In general, macho fern is more vigorous and has larger fronds than Boston fern.  Macho fern can be found in many parts of the world. It can be found in dry regions and wet regions. Macho fern has a more open structure than Boston fern. The leaves of macho fern are generally more rounded and not as pointed as Boston fern.

Macho Fern growth habit
  • Macho Fern Has A Hardier, More Compact Growth Habit. It can grow in full sun or shade and is adaptable to different soils. Its leaves are thicker and broader than Boston fern. It has a dark green, serrated leaf.  The macho fern is native to the eastern US and Canada. It can grow as tall as 15 feet and can live up to 100 years.

  • Macho Fern’s Seeds Germinate Faster than Boston fern’s seeds, and are more likely to be able to grow in poor soil.

  • The Flower Heads Of Macho Fern Are More Triangular than the round flower heads of Boston fern. The flowers of macho fern are less fragrant than the flowers of Boston fern.

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Similarities Of Macho Fern Vs. Boston Fern

Do macho fern and Boston fern have any similarities that make them stand out as plants of the same family?  Here are some similarities you can spot in these two plants:

  • Macho fern has a similar shape to Boston fern, but the leaves on macho fern are shorter, less pointed, and wider than those of Boston fern.
  • Macho fern also has a similar smell to Boston fern, which is described as having a very strong “urine-like” smell.
  • The flowers of both ferns have a similar scent even though macho ferns are smaller than Boston ferns.
  • Their seeds are shaped similarly but Boston ferns are much smaller.
  • The roots of macho fern look like the roots of Boston fern.

Macho Fern – 3 Gallon Pot – Overall Height 28″ to 34″ – Tropical Plants of Florida

macho fern vs. boston fern

Conclusion On Macho Fern Vs. Boston Fern

There are only a few differences and similarities between macho fern vs. Boston fern.  Knowing their differences will help you grow the right fern in your collection of plants both outdoors and indoors.

Now that you know a little about these two ferns, which is your favorite fern to grow? Happy gardening.


Is a macho fern the same as a Boston fern?

No.  A Boston fern has stomata, which are small pores through which oxygen is absorbed into the leaf.  Macho Ferns have a larger number of pores called stomata that allow water to pass through.  If you were to compare a Boston fern and a Macho Fern, you would notice that they have different colors.

How do you identify a Boston fern?

They are often small, often in colonies or groups, and have fronds that are usually light green. They are often found growing in moist shady locations in woods or along the edges of wooded areas.

What type of fern is a macho fern?

A macho fern is a name given to one or more species of ferns that grow in dense thickets and have a highly modified stipe (the main stem of the plant). This type of fern is called "macho" because of its ability to produce a very large number of sterile fronds.

What fern looks like a Boston fern?

Boston fern is similar to the more common Bracken or Fairy Fern, with a similar frond and rhizome structure. The main difference between the two is the lack of a sporangium on the frond, which allows it to remain in the vegetative state for longer than Bracken or Fairy Fern.