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DRYOPTERIS cristata

Image of Dryopteris cristata

Family

Dryopteridaceae

Botanical Name

DRYOPTERIS cristata

Plant Common Name

Crested Wood Fern

General Description

Crested wood fern is a semi-evergreen, clump-forming perennial that flourishes in moist, swampy ground as well as moist upland soils. This woodland fern is distinguished by its upright fronds with sparsely spaced pinnae, or leaflets, which are held at a tilt along the leaf stem. It has a very broad natural distribution. Native populations can be found across the whole of the northern hemisphere from North America to Europe, Russia and other parts of northern Asia.

DDespite the epithet “cristata”, this fern does not have crested foliage. The upright, green to blue-green fronds are supported by a stem, or stipe, that’s grooved and swollen and covered with brown scales at the base. Each frond comprises numerous lance-shaped leaflets, or pinnae, which are themselves divided into rounded segments called pinnules. Ferns with pinnae and pinnules are considered bipinnate. The foliage rises from a massive dense rhizome (spreading underground stem) lined with old stipes. In summer, its fertile fronds develop brown, kidney-shaped, spore-bearing “sori” that dot the undersides of the leaves in irregular rows along the pinnae. The fertile fronds are deciduous in winter while the shorter, sterile fronds form a clump that remains evergreen all winter.

Grow crested wood fern in partial to full shade exposures in fertile, organic rich soil that moist. It thrives in mucky, saturated soil and is quite intolerant of dry conditions and may even go dormant if subjected to drought stress. This pretty woodland fern naturalizes over time. It looks most handsome when massed as a groundcover or dotted among other shade and moisture loving perennials. Its new fronds are brittle and should be planted where they won’t be damaged by negligent feet.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 7

  • Plant Type

    Fern

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    10"-24" / 25.4cm - 61.0cm

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Northwestern United States, Canada, Europe, Northern Europe, United Kingdom, Russia/Siberia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bog Garden, Groundcover, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No